A new investigation from the institution that took on the Disneyland of agricultural tourism, Fair Oaks Farms, is now placing the spotlight on the natural dairy industry. The Animal Recovery Mission’s modern target is Natural Prairie Dairy, an organic operation offering raw milk for the in-house natural brands of multiple supermarket chains nationwide. Kroger and Meijer announced Friday that they’re postponing milk deliveries from the Texas-based dairy. While ARM’s founder says the investigation proves there’s no difference between natural and traditional milk, a representative from the main organic exchange organization argues that what’s absolutely needed is more potent enforcement.
The Great American Milk Myth
Milk has become a fixture of the American food plan for the duration of the primary half of of the 20 th century, whilst an increase in milk manufacturing coincided with the good-sized notion that milk turned into important for growing strong, wholesome kids. Though consumption charges for milk have been on the decline ever considering that, many American parents nevertheless take into account milk an important part of their young kids’ food regimen, regularly insisting on organic dairy milk, even though the relaxation in their grocery cart may be traditional foodstuffs.
“When I grew up, I believed inside the photograph on the milk carton of the cow with the pink barn inside the history, status within the green pasture with their toddler subsequent to them,” says Richard Couto. The founder of ARM says he previously switched from traditional dairy to natural, but now liquids best plant-based totally milks.
The grazing dairy cow is an icon of the American meals machine, but maximum Americans don’t realize an awful lot extra than that iconic photo. Agritourist operations like Fair Oaks Farms are an effort to bridge the records gap, however, the undercover video from ARM made that attempt seem suspect. Does Fair Oaks virtually tell clients or is it just a commercial for the agriculture enterprise? A representative from Fair Oaks Farms declined to remark for this tale.

Are Organic Cows Better Off?
Most consumers are considering fitness, not animal welfare when they choose organic (although most of the evidence doesn’t guide that thinking), but films like the ones from ARM can shake up the one’s priorities, forcing consumers to confront the fact of how their food is produced. No one desires to see animal abuse or dirty stalls and experience like they’re complicit in animal suffering.
Certified organic milk, just like all other licensed organic food, ought to be produced in accordance with the federal regulation that sets the USDA natural preferred. That regulation has a number of provisions meant to ensure proper remedy of animals, but it all starts offevolved with the basis that organic cattle animals be stored in living situations that support their herbal behaviors.
That premise isn’t new. It’s one of the core animal welfare tenets expressed in the Five Animal Welfare Freedoms first evolved in 1965. Couto says situations at Natural Prairie are a miles cry from those center tenets. “The area is filthy…There weren’t sufficient stalls for the cows. They’re overpopulated,” he says.
In an authentic assertion launched July 26, Donald and Cheri De Jong, proprietors of Natural Prairie Dairy, disputes these claims, calling the video “closely edited,” though additionally, they admit numerous of the video sequences warrant in addition research. The De Jongs have now requested unbiased auditors to are available and conduct an investigation, the consequences of which had been now not available by using the guide date of this text.

Couto says he watched the public response to the Fairlife investigation and noticed many humans promising to buy natural milk alternatively, a shift that reflected his own dietary evolution. “We saw that switch and that fashion, knowing that we have been undercover at an organic dairy and [we see] there’s no difference.”
Today, Couto says he simplest drinks plant-primarily based milk but is quick to factor out that’s now not normal of his agency. “Many people aren’t vegan or plant-based. Most of the investigators…Are not plant-primarily based, even though they generally stop consuming dairy when they go undercover.” Couto sooner or later gave up dairy milk altogether. He objects to the fundamental practices of dairy farming, especially, practices around insemination and weaning.
The Organic Regulation Needs Strong Enforcement
Johanna Mirenda, Farm Policy Director for the Organic Trade Association, says that the behavior alleged in ARM’s investigation is in reality prohibited under the organic preferred. “These sports would be a violation,” she says, including that enforcement of the regulation by using the USDA’s National Organic Program is essential to the label’s future success. “The cutting-edge framework for verifying compliance and taking enforcement action in opposition to non-compliant moves is in the region, and we want to use that device,” she says.
The regulation calls for that animals have got right of entry to to the outdoors and smooth bedding, a demand that may have been violated via Natural Prairie if the allegations raised through ARM are genuine. Organic farmers can’t depend upon antibiotics to deal with unwell animals without having to dispose of the animal from production, that’s why organic farming also calls for sturdy preventative healthcare measures. “That means offering animals with a wholesome feed ration to guide their fitness…Suitable housing, and pasture conditions and sanitation practices that reduce the…The spread of disease [and] lessen pressure,” explains Miranda. All of these requirements can also be violated by way of Natural Prairie, and must at the least be investigated with the aid of the organic certifier, she says.

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