The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has entered into a consent agreement with Aurora Organic Dairy (Aurora) after an investigation into alleged violations of National Organic Program regulations.

Under the consent agreement, Aurora's Platteville, Colo., facility must meet several conditions in order to continue to operate as a certified organic dairy operation. These conditions include removing certain animals from the organic herd and ceasing to apply the organic label to certain milk. Additionally, AMS will exercise increased scrutiny over Aurora's operations during a one-year probationary review period. If Aurora does not abide by the agreement during that time, AMS may withdraw from the agreement and could revoke the organic certification for Aurora's Platteville, Colo., plant.

According to a press release from Aurora the terms of the agreement with USDA reflect the company’s existing transformation plans that have already begun at its Platteville farm. The company’s plan for the Platteville farm includes a substantial increase in the amount of organic pasture acreage, to approximately 400 acres, and a significant decrease in the size of the farm’s organic dairy herd, to about 1,250 milking cows. About three-fourths of the farm’s existing buildings and paddocks are being razed and converted to pasture. In addition, all incoming and replacement animals will be organically-born. The Platteville facility also will become a focal point for Aurora Organic’s ongoing research and teaching relationships with leading universities and institutions, with increased support from the company for organic dairy research and education.

"The organic industry is booming and the National Organic Program is a high priority for USDA," said Bruce I. Knight, under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs, "and through this consent agreement consumers can be assured that milk labeled as organic in the supermarket is indeed organic."

To read the USDA press release, follow this link.

To read the press release from Aurora Organic Dairy, folow this link.

Source: USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, Aurora Organic Dairy