Industrial Poultry and Dairy Operations Slide Under Organic Regulations

January 20th, 2015

Center for Rural Affairs
by John Crabtree

Aurora Dairy in Dublin, TX

Federal organic regulations require that organic poultry and livestock be provided regular access to the outdoors. Dairy cattle and other ruminants must also be provided access to pasture.

Increasingly, massive industrial poultry and dairy facilities are obtaining organic certification. And there’s the rub. It strains all sense of credibility that these industrial confinement operations claim they meet the outdoor and pasture requirements embedded in the nation’s organic laws.

Recently, the Cornucopia Institute published photographs and other evidence that many of these operations are out of compliance. Cornucopia’s evidence is extremely damning. It shows massive dairy operations with no evidence of pasture access and poultry houses with a couple hundred square feet of outdoor access for hundreds of thousands of birds.

Why does it matter, you ask? It matters because for a generation small-scale organic farmers from across rural America have worked tirelessly to establish an ethical, environmentally responsible system of organic farming. They built an incredibly powerful economic relationship with the American consumer.

Those farmers deserve the right to enjoy the benefits of that relationship. Instead of trying to steal the organic label, perhaps industrial mega-farms should sell their meat, dairy, and eggs on their own merits for a change.

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