The Cornucopia Institute informed USDA in a letter Wednesday that it would file suit against the agency in federal district court. The suit will accuse USDA of failing to enforce the law by ignoring organic regulations.
Two agribusiness companies, Dean Foods and Aurora Dairy, are at the center of a seven-year-long dispute between USDA and organic family farmers. Dean's Horizon brand and Aurora's private-label milk have gained a dominant market share - perhaps as much as 70% - by milking as many as 2000 to 10,000 cows on their feedlot dairies.
According to organic advocates, those giant farms confine their animals rather than putting them on pasture in accordance with federal organic standards.
"There are five sections in the federal organic standards that relate to pasture and grazing. Taken together they leave little doubt as to what is expected of organic livestock producers," Jim Riddle, of the University of Minnesota and former chair of the National Organic Standards Board, says in a Cornucopia release.