Cornucopia News Archive

USDA Secretary Perdue Betrays His Disdain for Family-Scale Farmers Again

Friday, October 4th, 2019

USDA Secretary Perdue made comments at the World Dairy Expo this week that have inflamed family-scale dairy producers across the country:

USDA Secretary Perdue
Source: USDA, Flickr

“…[B]ig get bigger and small go out. … It’s very difficult on economies of scale with the capital needs and all the environmental regulations and everything else today to survive milking 40, 50, 60 or even 100 cows, and that’s what we’ve seen.”

Small dairies and other family-scale farms support rural areas with food and local investment. They are a critical part of the fabric of the rural United States.

Many small dairy farmers transitioned to organic production in order to survive the economies of scale that have overtaken conventional dairy markets. Organic producers and consumers have asked for stricter regulation for both environmental and human health, setting organic agriculture apart from conventional.

Instead of giving support to the organic market, Perdue seems determined to subvert it on behalf of industrial organic interests. Read Full Article »

What’s In Your Pantry?

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

Cornucopia Wants to Know 

[This article was previously published in the summer issue of  The Cultivator, Cornucopia’s quarterly newsletter.]

by Anne Ross, JD, Director of International Policy at The Cornucopia Institute

For Cornucopia’s team, every workday reminds us of our mission to safeguard organic integrity. This mission is built on values we share with each other, our members, and an increasing number of consumers all over the world.

Source: AdobeStock

Our work has always included an emphasis on consumer education. Whether it’s about organic food production, products available in the marketplace, or the personal stories of the hard-working farmers who produce our organic food, Cornucopia’s goal remains the same.

We strive to ensure the organic label represents all that it promises. But some producers offer more transparency and integrity to consumers than others. While we maintain organic is always a better option than conventional, we aim to highlight the organic products that are truly exceptional.

Our reports and scorecards give consumers the tools they need to support organic brands that meet their expectations. With these objectives in mind, we need your input! We want to know which products you’d like to learn more about and those you would like to see rated. Read Full Article »

A Decline in Biodiversity

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

Signals Danger for Native Pollinators 

[This article was previously published in the summer issue of  The Cultivator, Cornucopia’s quarterly newsletter.]

by Marie Burcham, JD, Director of Domestic Policy at The Cornucopia Institute

Source: AdobeStock

Pollinators are essential to nature, food production, and the future of our planet as we know it. They provide the service of pollinating over 85% of the world’s flowering plants, including the majority of food crops.

As such, pollinators are important keystone species and may be one of the most ecologically and economically important groups of diverse animals. In fact, the Xerces Society, a nonprofit dedicated to the protection of these insects, notes that the economic value of native pollinators— species that are native to a specific region and pollinate the flowering plants in that region—is estimated at $3 billion per year in the U.S.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a report on the global status of biodiversity in early May 2019.

The report found that human activity has resulted in large-scale loss of biodiversity, as well as the harmful alteration of 75% of the Earth’s land mass and 66% of the world’s oceans. Read Full Article »

Organic Grain Detectives Raise More Questions for the NOP

Thursday, September 5th, 2019

New Paper by John Bobbe and Anne Ross, J.D. LL.M.:
Potential, Failures, and Pitfalls of the National Organic Program in Getting Control of Organic Grain Fraud

The integrity of organic grain underpins much of organic production. It provides the grains we eat, and it feeds the organic poultry, cattle, sheep, and other livestock that provide organic meat, dairy, and eggs.

Industrial organic livestock operations typically rely on imported “organic” grain because it is far cheaper than domestic organic grain, and it is available in enormous quantities.

John Bobbe and Anne Ross, J.D. LL.M.

When it comes to fraudulent organic grain imports, The Cornucopia Institute and OFARM have been at the forefront in calling on the USDA to act. Both groups have aggressively tracked suspicious shiploads of “organic” grain, investigated the identity of international supply chains responsible for many of these shipments, and advocated for stronger enforcement measures.

Now OFARM’s former executive director, John Bobbe, and Cornucopia’s Anne Ross have joined forces to again impress upon the NOP that the import crisis is ongoing and that the agency has not done enough to stop it. In a paper they co-authored, Bobbe and Ross contend, “NOP’s failed enforcement efforts have left many organic farmers in dire straits with seemingly nowhere to turn, except off the farm.”

In addition to raising questions about NOP priorities in implementing remedial measures, Bobbe stated, “NOP would also like to shove off most of its investigative work on the certifiers and appears to only look at complaints if they have a shut tight case handed to them before acting.”

Ross warns the situation for domestic organic grain farmers could only get worse if the NOP doesn’t act now to stop fraudulent imports from crossing U.S. borders. Ross worries that an increasing global supply of organic grain in a market already distorted by fraud leaves the U.S. organic grain farmers especially vulnerable.

The paper’s release comes a day before an appearance by the NOP’s Associate Deputy Administrator, Dave Glasgow, at OFARM’s meeting in Piper City, Illinois. OFARM members are looking to Glasgow for answers to the concerns Bobbe and Ross raised. Following the meeting, Cornucopia will report on whether those concerns were adequately addressed. Read Full Article »

The Cornucopia Institute Rates More than 100 Cottage Cheese Products in New Scorecard

Thursday, September 5th, 2019

Comprehensive Report Gives Consumers Valuable Tool to Decode Dairy Aisle

The Cornucopia Institute, which produces science-based reports that empower consumers to make informed decisions about their food choices, recently completed an investigation into the cottage cheese industry, a re-emerging market that’s forecasted to grow nearly 10% by 2022. Its new Cottage Cheese Scorecard rates more than 100 cottage cheese products from 24 brands.

Due to a recent surge in popularity, dairy consumers now choose from a growing number of cottage cheese options, ranging from organic and minimally processed cottage cheese to products laden with sugar and other potentially harmful additives. Cornucopia’s new report, Weighing the Curds, helps consumers separate nutritious options from overly processed concoctions.

“A lot has been written recently about the ‘comeback’ of cottage cheese. Cornucopia’s work offers more than a market data analysis—we actually give consumers a tool to differentiate the quality among the products available,” said Anne Ross, Cornucopia’s director of international policy.

Some manufacturers heavily sweeten cottage cheese to improve its flavor. Many add thickeners and gums, such as the gastrointestinal inflammatory agent carrageenan, to make their products “creamier.” These additives mimic yogurt products that are marketed as healthy, but contain sugar and unnecessary additives.

“Cornucopia’s analysis found that organic cottage cheese products are far superior to their conventional counterparts,” continued Ross. “This is, in part, because most organic brands stay true to the simplicity of authentic cottage cheese.” Read Full Article »