The Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute, through research and investigations on agricultural and food issues, provides needed information to family farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in the good food movement and to the media. We support economic justice for the family-scale farming community – partnered with consumers – backing ecologically produced local, organic and authentic food.

Food Safety Rule to Disproportionately Cost Small Farmers

June 23rd, 2017

Cornucopia’s Take: The FDA’s Produce Safety Rule will start going into effect next year. The cost to small farmers for implementing the proposed rules may well endanger the livelihoods of organic farmers and their customers’ access to safe and nutritionally superior local and organic food. Not all farms are alike, and the FDA rule fails to address the higher risks associated with the spread of E.coli bacteria from the mountains of manure at conventional factory farms.

NSAC’s Blog

Source: Oregon Department of Agriculture

In 2006, an E. coli outbreak linked to spinach grown and packed in California resulted in the infection of nearly 200 people across the country; the outbreak was so serious that in some cases the infections resulted in deaths. This serious food safety lapse was one of the key catalysts for introducing stricter requirements for food safety on California farms. Among the new protections introduced following the outbreak was the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA), a food safety program with specific requirements for producers of leafy greens.

Changes to food safety requirements weren’t just confined to California, however. The 2006 outbreak also led to changes in federal food safety regulations, specifically the creation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law in 2011. FSMA regulations cover the entire food supply chain – from farms to processors to transporters and imports – and shifted the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) operating procedure from largely reactionary to preventative. Read Full Article »

“Natural” Chicken Contains Antibiotics, Steroids, Hallucinogenic Drug, and More

June 23rd, 2017

Cornucopia’s Take: “Natural” is a marketing claim with little meaning, and questionable food companies regularly take advantage of consumer assumptions. In this case, Sanderson Farms has run afoul of even the very lax regulation of the word. “Natural” is no substitute for pasture-raised, certified organic chicken.

Nonprofits Sue Third-Largest Poultry Co. for False Advertising of Drug-Contaminated Chicken
Organic Consumers Association

Source: PressReleaseFinder

Sanderson Farms’ ‘100% Natural’ Advertising Claims Deceive Consumers, Threaten Public Health

Three nonprofit groups filed suit today against Laurel, Miss.-based Sanderson Farms, Inc. (NASDAQ: SAFM) for falsely advertising products that contain a wide range of unnatural and in some cases prohibited substances, as “100% Natural.” Substances include antibiotics, steroids, hormones and even a drug with hallucinogenic effects. The groups suing Sanderson are Organic Consumers Association (OCA), Friends of the Earth (FoE), and Center for Food Safety (CFS).

Sanderson Chicken claims its chicken is 100% Natural or “nothing but chicken.” But recent testing conducted by the National Residue Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) found 49 instances in which samples of Sanderson products tested positive for residues of synthetic drugs that are not “100% Natural.”  Thirty-three percent of the 69 FSIS inspections, conducted in five states, uncovered residues that no reasonable consumer would consider “natural.” Read Full Article »

Farm Runoff is Harming Gulf Fisheries

June 22nd, 2017

Cornucopia’s Take: Because of the timing and amount of water flowing through the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers, the large amount of nutrients carried to the Gulf of Mexico from farming and wastewater are causing algal bloom. When the algal bloom dies back, it will use oxygen to break down and leave fish and shrimp in a low oxygen environment. Farmers can mitigate farm runoff by building healthy soil, which requires less fertilizer, and by applying synthetic fertilizer carefully when needed.  Synthetic fertilizer is prohibited from use in organics.

NOAA, USGS and partners predict third largest Gulf of Mexico summer ‘dead zone’ ever

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association

Larger-than-average low and no oxygen area may affect the region’s shrimp fisheries

Federal scientists forecast that this summer’s Gulf of Mexico dead zone – an area of low to no oxygen that can kill fish and other marine life – will be approximately 8,185 square miles, or about the size of New Jersey.

Source: Eutrophication & Hypoxia

This would be the third largest dead zone recorded since monitoring began 32 years ago – the average Gulf dead zone since then has been 5,309 square miles. Read Full Article »

Bipartisan Agreement for More Agricultural Research

June 22nd, 2017

Cornucopia’s Take: The Senate Agriculture Committee recently held a meeting to discuss the history and future of agricultural research in the U.S. President Trump’s proposed budget makes deep cuts to agricultural research programs. More research funding is needed, particularly for chronically underfunded organic agricultural research.


Source: Markus Spiske

As discussions around the 2018 Farm Bill continue, policymakers on both sides of the aisle, in both chambers of Congress, have spoken about the need for increased public funding for agricultural research. For example, members of the House recently announced the bi-partisan Congressional Agriculture Research Caucus to highlight the need for additional focus on innovative research and extension programs.

Yesterday, the Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on agricultural research, focusing on both past successes and future research needs. There were two panels of witnesses, the first panel included representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, while the second panel included researchers and those benefiting from publicly funded research. Read Full Article »

USDA Sued for Removing Country of Origin Labeling on Meat

June 21st, 2017

Cornucopia’s Take: Cornucopia supports country of origin labeling (COOL) for food. COOL was passed in 2009, but in 2016, under intense pressure from industry, it was revoked.

Cattle Ranchers Sue to Return Country-Of-Origin Labeling
U.S. News & World Report
by Nicholas K. Geranios, Associated Press

Source: Jenny Mackness

Ranchers are suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture, seeking to force meat to again be labeled if it’s produced in other countries and imported to the United States.

Ranchers on Monday sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture, seeking to force meat to again be labeled if it’s produced in other countries and imported to the United States.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Spokane, seeks to overturn a March 2016 decision by the Department of Agriculture to revoke regulations requiring imported meat products to be labeled with their country of origin. That change allowed imported meat to be sold as U.S. products, the lawsuit said. Read Full Article »

The Cornucopia Institute
P.O. Box 126 Cornucopia, Wisconsin 54827
Ph: 608-625-2000