Largest Organic Milk Producer in the U.S. Isn’t Actually Organic at All

The country’s largest organic milk producer has allegedly been operating illegally, according to an exposé that appeared in the Washington Post Monday. Aurora Organic Dairy, which supplies store-brand organic milk to such retailers as Walmart, Costco, and Target, was accused in the exposé of failing to graze its cattle according to USDA organic standards.

A formal legal complaint was filed Tuesday against the dairy and its organic certifier, the Colorado Department of Agriculture, by organic watchdog group The Cornucopia Institute.

“The rigorous investigative work by Peter Whoriskey at The Washington Post clearly illustrates a pattern of long-term corruption by both Aurora Dairy and the USDA’s National Organic Program,” Mark Kastel, Cornucopia’s co-director, said in a press release. “Our organic regulators have turned a blind eye as giant industrial operations place ethical family-scale dairy farmers at a distinct competitive disadvantage.”

According to the Washington Post, the High Plains operation in Colorado, which is run by Aurora Organic Dairy, has been keeping almost all of its 15,000 cows in dirt- and manure-covered pens instead of in pasture, as organic regulations require. Reporters visited the farm several times across eight days last year, and each time they never found more than ten percent of the herd grazing. This was confirmed by a high-resolution satellite photo taken in mid-July by DigitalGlobe, the Post reports.

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