Organic Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CAFO) Dairies should not be allowed!
But there are.
In our country.
And in our supermarkets.
Here are the cold hard numbers I uncovered after hours of sifting through USDA Organic data reports.
In 2016, New York State had 471 organic dairy farms and produced 38 million gallons of milk. (NY has more organic dairy farms than any other state.) In the same year, Texas had 6 organic dairy farms and produced 56 million gallons of milk. That’s not a typo. Six farms in Texas produced 18 million MORE gallons of organic milk than all of New York’s organic dairies combined.
As of 2019, there were 136 organic dairy farms in New York and just 3 in Texas. Sounds good right? “The small organic farms win! Let’s party!” No.
The small farms don’t win
These 9 mega-dairies in Texas produced twice as much organic milk as all 607 New York dairies combined. I almost wish I didn’t know… But ignorance isn’t happiness and facts don’t lie.
Organic dairies in New York produced 45 million gallons, while dairies in Texas produced 95 million gallons of cheap organic milk that’s flooding grocery stores and putting New York farms out of business.
Rough calculations show that these New York dairies average 45 cows per farm, while the 9 Texas farms average 5,000-6,000 cows each.
The message seems to be, “Get big or quit.”
Horizon Organic plans to shut down 89 small organic dairies this summer, while many other small farms will simply be put out of business by Industrial Organic’s low prices.
That is real. Industrial Organic CAFO dairies take over.
“But maybe it’s not so bad if they give my family cheap organic milk… Isn’t all certified organic milk the same?”
Let’s take a look behind the scenes of the industry
Click on one of these organic milk pictures to take a closer look.
Hilltop LLC – Boehning Dairy – in Earth, Texas. All photos were taken by the Cornucopia Institute during an investigation of an organic factory.
Aurora Organic Dairy in Dublin, Texas, May 2014 – Current satellite view.
“It is important to note that virtually all of the surrounding fields that could be used for grazing have recently been mowed and baled into hay. There is practically no pasture available for these animals. These feedlots are certified organic by Quality Assurance International.” – Cornucopia Institute
Another Aurora Organic Dairy in Stratford, Texas
Their website clearly states this Coldwater Dairy has 9,720 cows.
“Center point with approximately 400 cows (4% of the 9,720 farmed at this dairy) in what appears to be depleted pasture… This photo appears to illustrate the pattern observed at other Aurora facilities: insufficient available space based on herd size . This area does not appear to meet the legal requirements for rangeland…” – Cornucopia Institute
Organic Natural Great Plains Dairy in Channing, Texas
This sprawling factory farm keeps over 14,000 cows, according to their website.
“Many cows on the drying area in contrast to the pasture. Organic farms may temporarily confine cattle for a number of reasons related to health and the environment, but not because a confinement model farm produces more milk.” – Cornucopia Institute
You took a peek behind the industrial curtain. This is how cheap “organic” milk is made.
Are all organic dairy farms created equal? Not when you consider that 25% of this country’s organic milk is produced by less than 1% of organic farms. These mega-dairies clearly fit the EPA’s own definition of a CAFO – Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. And yet they also claim to fully meet USDA requirements for organic products… Aurora Organic Dairy prominently features an entire web page dedicated to their organic integrity.
So what’s wrong here? How can CAFO dairies be certified organic?
Is it a corporate greed problem?
Is it a corrupt government issue?
Or is it a combination of both?
I’m glad these big dairies don’t use chemicals or antibiotics… but if you are organic, then we are a whole plane Furthermore Organic! 🙂
The take away message is: know your farmer, ask them questions and visit the farm if possible
Always remember that you are the most important player in this game. I can show you behind the industrial curtain, but you are the one holding the tremendous power of food choice. We work together can make a difference!
Part 1: Label Claims – Behind the industrial curtain
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