FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 27, 2017
Contact: Sonja Tuitele
720.564.6296, ext. 137
National Organic Program Closes Complaint against Aurora Organic Dairy, Finds it in Compliance with Organic Rules
Allegations that ‘milk may not be organic’ are proven incorrect
Boulder, CO – The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), the nation’s authority for properly certified organic food production, today officially closed a May 2, 2017 complaint against Aurora Organic Dairy’s (AOD) High Plains Dairy in Gill, CO, finding the company in full compliance with the access to pasture and grazing regulations required in organic dairy production.
“The NOP confirmed what we have known all along: that Aurora Organic Dairy is a 100% organic company. Their investigation included a thorough review of our facilities, our grazing practices and the records we maintain to document compliance with the organic rule,” said Marc Peperzak, Founder and CEO. “We’ve confronted false criticism with facts by fully and transparently cooperating with this enforcement process, and this outcome clearly validates our organic certifications.”
A widely circulated media report, which falsely claimed the Company’s farming methods and milk may not be organic, was not informed by the actual requirements of the organic rule. Following their investigation, the NOP Issued a letter to AOD, dated September 27, 2017, stating, “We determined that Aurora’s livestock and pasture management practices comply with existing USDA organic regulations and NOP policies.” The agency has now closed the case, concluding that no part of the complaint had merit. At all times, AOD has maintained continuous valid organic certificates for its products.
The same media report erroneously suggested milk testing can determine if a product’s organic grazing requirements are being met. However, the NOP’s letter further stated that “testing based on nutrient levels is not part of the existing organic standards, and therefore, cannot serve as a criteria for assessing compliance.” Organic livestock producers are required to rigorously plan and document herd and pasture management that maximizes the grazing season. At times, non-continuous grazing is used to protect soils, plants and animal health as part of this plan.
“It is unfortunate that some activists continue to perpetuate the misguided belief that only small dairy farms can be organic, when the organic rule, itself, is scale-neutral,” said Peperzak. “The truth is, our size makes a positive difference. Not only have we converted many thousands of pasture acres to organic agriculture, but we have supported the conversion of tens of thousands more acres for other organic feed crop producers. Our scale has also helped create markets for all organic milk producers.”
“Aurora Organic Dairy has been a pioneer in organic production and animal welfare, and our certified dairy products are and have always been organic. We join our industry peers in calling for additional resources for the NOP to encourage the proper enforcement of organic rules and to protect the integrity of the USDA organic seal that consumers trust,” said Peperzak.
About Aurora Organic Dairy
Aurora Organic Dairy is the leading producer and processor of store-brand organic milk and butter for U.S. retailers. Based in Boulder, Colorado, the company operates organic dairy, heifer and calf farms in Colorado and Texas, as well as an organic dairy processing plant in Platteville, Colorado. In early 2019, Aurora expects to begin operations on our second milk plant in Columbia, Missouri. The company manages nearly 12,000 organic pasture acres where its dairy cows graze during the grazing season. Approximately 75,000 additional acres are used to grow organic forages and feed crops by more than 100 independent farmers who support our farms.