Cornucopia News Archive

Cornucopia Response: Washington Post Opinion Writer Misses the Mark on Organics

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

Tamar Haspel’s recent opinion piece on organic versus conventional agriculture missed the handicap that organics has in documenting its many benefits to society.

Ms. Haspel suggested she was using “neutral” scientists to make an (organic) apple to (conventional) apple comparison. However, relying on the USDA, overwhelmingly committed to biotechnology and agrochemicals, or land-grant university researchers, where the primary research funding comes from conventional agricultural interests, doesn’t leave one confident that biased influences are not in-play.

Organic Orchard
Source: Oregon Dept. of Agriculture
Conventional Orchard
Source: UNDP

Read Full Article »

Leading Organic Industry Watchdog Blasts USDA

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Calls “Animal Welfare” Rulemaking a Betrayal to Farmers and Consumers

After years of delay, the United States Department of Agriculture recently released their long-anticipated draft rule to address lapses in organic animal welfare standards. The nation’s most prominent organic industry watchdog, The Cornucopia Institute, blasts the proposal as being designed to further divide the industry, calling it, “a cynical excuse for the USDA to delay addressing widespread violations of the current law, in the interest of supporting industrial farming.”

Delta Egg in Chase, Kansas,
100,000+ birds per building, none outdoors.

Cornucopia’s attorney and policy experts found that the hodgepodge of new recommendations in the USDA’s proposal includes lenient elements that will institutionalize industrial livestock factories managing as many as two million chickens, or 18,000 dairy cows. At the same time, the policy group found brand new proposals that would require conditions that could put everyone currently producing organic milk on family-scale dairy farms out of business.

“We are calling this move by the USDA ‘cynical’ because reaction from the organic community and industry will provoke so much blowback that it makes the likelihood of the rule’s timely implementation highly unrealistic,” said Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst for The Cornucopia Institute, a public interest group based in Wisconsin. Read Full Article »

New Animal Welfare Rules Could Harm Family-Scale Dairy Farmers

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Broilers, Layer Standards Could Lock-in Favorable Treatment for Factory Farms
Comments due by July 13 [Extended from June 13]

One of the reasons consumers are willing to pay premium prices for organic milk, meat, and eggs is because they think animals are cared for in a more humane manner. Rules have to be balanced between promoting important animal welfare ideals and protecting ethical farmers’ ability to produce superior food.

Delta Egg in Chase, Kansas,
100,000-hens per building, none outdoors.
Click here for a larger version.

The draft animal welfare standards that the USDA just released are a hodgepodge of regulations. Some are well-taken, others are so restrictive that it will make it impossible for dairy farmers, as an example, to manage their cattle in a humane and sanitary manner. Still other changes favor the corporate sector in industrial livestock production — officially legalizing factory farm egg and poultry practices.

Please send your comments to the USDA today, telling them you support The Cornucopia Institute’s comprehensive comments to protect the interest of family-scale farmers and consumers who want authentic organic food. Read Full Article »

Senate Agriculture Committee: Notes from May 26

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Should Corporate Agribusiness Lobbyists and Money Drive Organic Policy?

Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) &
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Source: USDA

Representatives of the largest trade associations in the beef, pork, turkey, and egg industries testified before the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. They told Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and ranking minority member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) absolutely the opposite of what family farmers, if they had been invited to attend, would’ve stated.

Representatives from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, United Egg Producers (UEP), National Pork Producers Council, US Cattlemen’s Association and the National Turkey Federation were all singing out of the same hymnal (and the elected representatives present joined in perfect harmony).

And what were all these lovebirds squawking about?   Read Full Article »

Five Seats Opening on the National Organic Standards Board

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

500px-USDA_organic_seal_svg - wikicommonsThe USDA is soliciting applications for five vacancies on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The 15-member volunteer board makes decisions on what synthetic and non-organic materials are allowed for use in organic food and agriculture, and advises the USDA Secretary on policy matters concerning organics.

The five-year terms begin on January 24, 2017. Written applications must be postmarked by June 3, 2016.  The NOSB, established by Congress in 1990, represents various stakeholders in organics with seats reserved for individuals matching various stakeholder interests.

The five vacancies on the board include an individual with expertise in areas of environmental protection and resource conservation; an organic farmer; an organic handler or processor who owns or operates an organic handling operation; a representative of a public or consumer interest group; and a scientist (with a background in toxicology, ecology, or biochemistry).

Individuals seeking more details and application materials for one of the vacancies on the NOSB can find that information here. Assistance may also be obtained by contacting Michelle Arsenault via email or by calling 202-720-0081 or the NOP main office at 202-720-325. Read Full Article »