Feb 16, 2005

TO: Eileen Broomell, NOP Compliance, USDA

Dear Ms. Broomell,

The Cornucopia Institute is filing this complaint with your office concerning
alleged violations of the pasture rules for ruminants by the Case Vander Eyk,
Jr. Dairy farm near Tipton, California. We are asking that you investigate
this complaint and undertake all warranted enforcement actions to bring this
dairy into compliance with NOP pasture rules in a timely fashion.

Specifically, we believe, based on our investigation, that there is a reasonable
basis to conclude that the Case Vander Eyk, Jr. Dairy farm is violating the
spirit and intent of portions of the following Subpart C provisions
of the NOP regulations:

§ 205.237 Livestock feed.

  • The producer of an organic livestock operation must provide livestock with
    a total feed ration composed of agricultural products, including
    and forage, that are organically produced and, if applicable,
    organically handled … (emphasis added)

§ 205.238 Livestock health care practice standard

(3) Establishment of appropriate housing, pasture conditions,
and sanitation practices to minimize the occurrence and spread of diseases
and parasites; (emphasis added),

(4) Provision of conditions which allow for exercise, freedom of movement,
and reduction of stress appropriate to the species;

§ 205.239 Livestock living conditions.

(a) The producer of an organic livestock operation must establish and maintain
livestock living conditions which accommodate the health and natural
behavior of animals
, including (emphasis added):

(1) Access to the outdoors, shade, shelter, exercise areas, fresh air, and
direct sunlight suitable to the species, its stage of production, the climate,
and the environment;

(2) Access to pasture for ruminants;

The Cornucopia Institute has received a number of reports that indicate that
the Case Vander Eyk, Jr. Dairy farm does not provide sufficient pasture for
their lactating herd numbering approximately 3000 head. The Case Vander
Eyk farm has access to 10,000 acres of pasture, but it is located near Ducor,
miles away from their main operation. The dairy reportedly trucks cows
to the Ducor pasture but The Cornucopia Institute contends that this approach
is not used with the lactating animals. Thus pasture does not appear
to provide appreciative feed value, as required by the regulations, for the
Case Vander Eyk, Jr. Dairy farm milking herd.

Additional support for this complaint is provided in the March 3, 2004 edition
of The Valley Voice, “Organic Dairy Plans Tulare Milk Plant.”(http://www.valleyvoicenewspaper.com/valleyvoicearchive/march32004.htm)

The Cornucopia Institute recognizes that certified organic dairy operations
can remove cows from pasture for “temporary” considerations based
on weather, environmental, or health considerations as noted in the following
portion of Subpart C:

§ 205.239 Livestock living conditions

(b) The producer of an organic livestock operation may provide temporary confinement
for an animal because of:

(1) Inclement weather;

(2) The animal’s stage of production;

(3) Conditions under which the health, safety, or well being of the animal
could be jeopardized; or

(4) Risk to soil or water quality.

The Cornucopia Institute contends, however, that geographic or climatic conditions—which
makes pasture impractical or not cost-effective—cannot be used to justify
year-round noncompliance with the pasture rule.

The Case Vander Eyk, Jr. Dairy farm has been certified by Quality
Assurance International, Inc. (QAI), with their first organic certification
granted in 2002. QAI may be contacted at 858-792-3531.

The contact information for the Case Vander Eyk, Jr. Dairy is:

Case Vander Eyk, Jr.
9999 Road 80
Pixley, CA 93256

The Cornucopia Institute also believes that similar violations
of the Subpart C pasture provisions may be occurring on other certified dairy
operations. We are investigating and collecting additional information
on these farms and may file formal complaints regarding their violations with
your office.

Please keep The Cornucopia Institute apprised of the status of
and progress of your investigation into this formal complaint. We take
this matter very seriously. Farmers who have made the difficult conversion
to organics and consumers who are paying premium prices for organic foods rely
upon the USDA and its approved certifying agents to uniformly and fairly enforce
the nation’s organic law.

Lastly, pursuant to Subpart C and the following provision:

§ 205.680 General

  • Persons subject to the Act who believe they are adversely affected by a
    noncompliance decision of the National Organic Program’s Program Manager
    may appeal such decision to the Administrator.

It should be noted that nothing in this formal complaint shall be interpreted
as a waiver of our right to appeal under the Adverse Action Appeals Process
cited above.

You may contact us at your convenience.


Will Fantle
Director of Research