Dear Friends

I care a great deal about organic, and about the more than 650 dedicated men and women who call Aurora Organic Dairy home, and I write this on their behalf. Contrary to accusations made in a recent article in The Washington Post, Aurora Organic Dairy’s cows graze on pasture, and we meet and exceed the organic pasture standards. We maintain meticulous daily records, which prove our cows’ pasture intake, and how much nutrition they get from pasture and other feed sources.

At our Colorado High Plains farm alone, our pastures annually produce more than 40 million pounds of feed on more than 4,000 acres. We invest significant resources for our pastures in land, irrigation, and soil and crop scientists. These experts study our pastures and develop annual plans to ensure the sustainability of the pasture, and the nutrition and health of our cows.

It is truly unfortunate that The Washington Post article disregards the plain language of the organic rules established under the National Organic Program (the “NOP”), and distorts Aurora’s rigorous production practices that offer our customers and consumers an important food choice.

It is even more unfortunate that there was no acknowledgment in the article of our efforts to proactively reach out to the reporter. In this outreach, we offered to discuss the requirements of the NOP’s organic rules, how the NOP’s organic rules are implemented in different climates, and how our production practices are fully compliant with the NOP’s organic rules. We also invited the reporter to take a tour of our facilities, and referred him to academics and other experts with whom he could have similar discussions. The reporter ignored our offers.

We believe the reporter’s bias led to several misstatements and omissions from The Washington Post article, which include the following:

  • The grazing requirements of the NOP are clear and enable national organic production across many different regions. Organic dairy cows must receive at least 30% of their dry matter intake from pasture during the grazing season, which cannot be less than 120 days.
  • The USDA Accredited Organic Certifying Agents are not employees of the producers they certify. They are independent, third-party auditing services, accredited by the USDA to certify production in accordance with the rules of the NOP.
  • The level of Essential Fatty Acids in milk is neither a requirement of the National Organic Program, nor does it prove or disprove the amount of pasture used to produce that milk. Such a test is affected by numerous factors, including the type of pasture grasses, climate, other feed inputs and animal genetics.
  • We do not overgraze, damage our soils or subject our animals to harm from poor nutrition by grazing them when the pastures have been fully grazed. Even so, we exceed the requirements of the organic pasture rule.
  • Our animals are taken to and from pastures across our system, given shelter from excessive heat, frequently grazed at night, and provided supplemental organic silage, hay and grains to provide optimal nourishment. We do this because it supports the health of our cows.
  • We were among the first producers to implement a voluntary third-party verified animal welfare certification in 2005. We also supported a strengthened pasture requirement that the USDA enacted in 2010.
  • All organic dairies do not resemble each other and are not managed the same. They vary in scale, climates and pastures. Regardless, to be organic they must meet the regulations and be properly certified.

It is also important to note that an activist group who is opposed to large-scale organic filed complaints against our company with the USDA on the very same day the article was published. This is a continuation of serial complaints filed against our farms and other large-scale organic farms by the same activist group. The article is a coordinated attack against our industry and our company, and the integrity of anyone who does not fall within the activist’s narrow, regressive definition of who should produce organic milk.

We have never hidden or made excuses for our business model. We are committed to our values, which include being a 100% organic company, and having the highest standards of animal welfare. Many of you have shared your confidence and support of our business in the face of recent criticism. We truly appreciate your voices.

Please consider this letter as an invitation to anyone to exchange ideas. We welcome the chance to share who we are and what we do.

Sincerely,


Marc Peperzak, Founder & CEO