Cornucopia News Archive

The Canary in the Organic Coal Mine

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Organic Crops and Gardens Increasingly Contaminated by Persistent Herbicides

by Linley Dixon, PhD

This sunflower shows the leaf curl characteristic
of poisoning by aminopyralid herbicide. In this
case, the herbicide contamination came from
horse manure.

Photo by John Mason,

Nothing is more infuriating than first-hand accounts of “Big Ag” putting sustainable organic farmers out of business. Herbicide carryover in compost embodies this travesty in the same vein as chemical drift, GMO contamination, and the monopolies created when seeds and genes are patented. [[1]]

Herbicide carryover (when persistent herbicides remain in compost, which then damages crops) may be initially hard to fathom, but occurrences are increasing due to the expanded use of certain persistent chemicals.

Here’s the calamity, for many family farmers, in a nutshell: broadleaf-specific herbicides sprayed on conventional pasture and hay fields pass unchanged through the digestive tract of farm animals, ultimately ending up in their manure, where the herbicides do not break down for many years, even when properly and thoroughly composted. [[2]] When contaminated compost finds its way into garden soil, crops will suffer. When that garden is your livelihood, it is tragic. Read Full Article »

No Organic Check-Off!

Monday, June 29th, 2015

NoCheckoffFBThe Organic Trade Association (OTA) is pushing a proposed USDA-sanctioned “check-off,” or tax on organic farmers and processors, to pay for research and promotion activities.

But a growing number of organic farmers and organizations OTA works with are opposing the check-off scheme. Many of these same farmers have a bitter taste in their mouths from similar check-off taxes they experienced in conventional agriculture.

Visit to learn why opposition to this OTA scheme is mounting. Read Full Article »

Conventional Cows on Organic Dairies?

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

USDA’s Proposed Origin of Livestock Rule Could Create New Loophole

by Will Fantle

The origin of livestock regulations allowed industrial-
scale organic dairies to purchase conventional stock
to replace worn out milk cows.
Aurora Coldwater Dairy, above, manages 18,000
cows on 3,558 acres in Stratford, 
Texas, according
to state filings.

The USDA’s National Organic Program released the long-awaited proposed rule amending their “Origin of Livestock” regulations — five years after they named it a top priority. The new rule is supposed to close a giant loophole allowed by the USDA’s interpretation of federal regulations.

The loophole has allowed organic factory farms to constantly bring conventional young stock onto their operations to both grow the dairy operations and replace animals burned out by their high production management approach.

The situation has long outraged ethical family-scale organic dairy farmers whose management practices produce self-sustaining dairy herds. These farmers and their supporters have been pressuring the National Organic Program (NOP) to eliminate the loophole for the past decade. Read Full Article »

Whole Foods Faces FTC Mislabeling Investigation

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Specialty Grocer Meets Growing Blowback from Organic Farmer/Consumers

WF PressureWeathering a dramatic 14% drop in shareholder value, the iconic grocer Whole Foods Market now faces consumer fraud accusations. This comes on the heels of the beleaguered grocer also dealing with a related and escalating protest concerning its new in-house rating system for conventional and Certified Organic produce.

Before these latest controversies, investment analysts had begun questioning Whole Foods’ ability to maintain above average profit margins in an increasingly competitive organic food market. Its new “Responsibly Grown” program for rating produce is seen as an effort to help the company maintain the high prices and margins which had earned the retailer the moniker “Whole Paycheck.”

The Cornucopia Institute, a national farm policy research group that acts as an organic industry watchdog, announced today that it asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate allegations of consumer fraud and mislabeling related to Whole Foods’ ”Responsibly Grown” produce rating program. Based in Cornucopia, Wisconsin, the organization has documented a number of examples where the grocer has labeled products “Good,” “Better” or “Best” when the farms or distributors in question had not met the standards set forth in the company’s recently developed “Responsibly Grown” guidelines. Read Full Article »

Mark Kastel to Speak in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, June 24

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

MAK SturgeonBayWould you rather pay a little more for food now or a lot more for health care later? Cornucopia Cofounder Mark Kastel will explain why we can’t afford not to eat organic when he speaks in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., June 24. The shift to industrial-chemical agriculture over the past 65 years has contaminated our food supply with toxic agrichemicals and resulted in food that is measurably lower in essential nutrients. Mark will discuss the enormous payback, to our health, our families and our communities, of eating a diet of local and certified organic foods.

Hosted by the Door County Environmental Council, this free event will be held at 7 p.m. at the Collins Learning Center, Crossroads at Big Creek, 2041 Michigan Street, Sturgeon Bay, Wis. Contact or 920-743-6003 for more information. Read Full Article »