|Farm Name||Alta Dena (Dean Foods)|
|Location||City of Industry , CA (California)|
|Products||Purchased by Dean Foods. Alta Dena is a brand managed by Dean.|
|Market Area||West Coast|
Alta Dena (Dean Foods)
Like many of the pioneering brands in the natural/whole foods and organic industry, this venerable name is now controlled by Dean Foods, which also markets under the Horizon and Organic Cow of Vermont brands. Information on their flagship brand, Horizon, appears below.
Started by a syndicate of millionaires whose experience included organic groceries and conventional factory dairy farming, they quickly grew the enterprise, accessing venture capital and eventually selling stock in the company on Wall Street. Horizon, which is now the largest selling organic milk brand, was purchased by Dean Foods, a giant agribusiness, with almost $11 billion in sales, specializing in dairy products. Dean is also the largest conventional dairy marketer in the country.
They operate two corporate-owned farms, in Maryland and Idaho. Their Idaho facility, milking many thousands of cows, was originally a conventional factory-dairy that they converted to organic production. It has, according to widespread industry reports, very little access to pasture. Unlike the majority of all organic dairy farmers in the United States, who concentrate on the health and longevity of their cows, caring for them from birth, the Dean/Horizon Idaho farm sells off all their calves. Later, presumably to save money on organic feed and management, they buy one-year-old conventional animals on the open market. These replacements likely have received conventional milk replacer (made with blood—considered to be a "mad cow" risk), antibiotics, other prohibited pharmaceuticals, and genetically engineered feed. Many practices on a farm of this nature put ethical family-scale organic farmers at a competitive disadvantage.
In addition, Dean/Horizon purchases milk from other industrial-scale farms, some of which have a history of alleged labor abuses, and has reportedly been actively recruiting additional large farms. The company has announced plans to invest $10 million in additional farms in Idaho that will milk thousands of cows.
Although the corporation purchases at least half its milk from hundreds of family-scale farmers (they lump together the large factory farms with these traditional family farms, there is no clear-cut way for us to determine the percentage). There is no reason to believe these smaller organic dairy farms are not conducting their business just as ethically as farmers shipping to other labels. In a series of meetings with Dean officers and staff, we presented an option for disinvestment in their factory farms and an ambitious alternative proposal to fund transition and start-up of more organic family farms to fill their needs. Thus far, they have rejected this alternative. The corporation did not respond to either of two letters requesting their participation in the study.
|Ownership Structure||0||No answer|
|Milk Supply||0||No answer|
|Disclosure of Information for Verification||0||No answer|
|Certifier farms||0||No answer|
|Certifier processing||0||No answer|
|Cows on pasture time/acreage provided||0||No answer|
|Health and longevity of cows||0||No answer|
|Replacement animals only from organic farms||0||No answer|
|Antibiotics used on young cattle||0||No answer|
|Reproductive hormones used||0||No answer|
|Farm support oversight||0||No answer|
|Outside dairy ingredients purchased||0||No answer|
|TOTAL SCORE||0||NO COWS (Ethically Deficient) Most produce or purchase factory farm milk - none were open enough to participate in this study|