March 23, 2006

New Study - Organic Dairy Being Corrupted

by Mark Kastel
New Study Highlights Both Corporate Exploitation and Ethical Brands

A smoldering five-year debate in the organic community had gasoline thrown on it when one of the country's preeminent organic watchdogs released a report this week alleging a handful of leading marketers are shortchanging organic consumers.

The report and scorecard, rating 68 different organic dairy name-brands and private-labels, was produced by The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group. It profiles the growth and commercialization of organic dairying and looks at the handful of firms that now seem intent upon taking over the organic dairy industry by producing all or some of their milk on 2000- to 6000-cow industrial-style confinement dairies.

"Consumers who pay premium prices for organic products do so believing that they are produced with a different kind of environmental ethic, a different kind of animal husbandry ethic, and social justice for family farmers," said Mark Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst for the Institute and the report's primary author. “Our report, Maintaining the Integrity of Organic Milk, and the accompanying dairy brands scorecard will empower consumers and wholesale buyers who want to invest their food dollars to protect hard-working family farmers who are in danger of being washed off the land by a tidal wave of organic milk from these factory mega-farms."

The Cornucopia Institute’s report was a year in the making and involved in-depth research and surveys of the nation’s dairy product manufacturers located in every region of the country. Company owners and senior management had to approve and personally verify their responses to the Institute’s 19 survey questions. Brands received scores ranging from "five cows” (ranking as the best) to “one cow” (substandard) based upon an analysis of the responses and other outside research. The scorecard and report can be easily viewed on the organization’s Web page at


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