September 29, 2017

Feds Say Aurora is Compliant

 |  By: Mike Opperman

Last May the Washington Post published an article that raised questions about the management practices at Aurora Organic Dairy, specifically if they were compliant with organic standards. The article sparked an investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program (NOP). This week an article in the Denver Business Journal announced that the NOP has no issues with the dairy or their management practices.

According to the article the agency interviewed staff at the Colorado Department of Agriculture about Aurora's livestock handling and pasture practices as well as completed on-site visits of the Greeley, Colorado facility. "NOP's investigation did not find violations of existing USDA organic regulations by Aurora," a letter from the NOP to Aurora stated. "...the dairy is certified organic and in good standing under the USDA organic regulations."

“The NOP confirmed what we have known all along: that Aurora Organic Dairy is a 100% organic company," says Marc Peperzak, Aurora's founder and CEO. "Their investigation included a thorough review of our facilities, our grazing practices and the records we maintain to document compliance with the organic rule. We’ve confronted false criticism with facts by fully and transparently cooperating with this enforcement process, and this outcome clearly validates our organic certifications.”

As expected, the author of the Washington Post article, in addition to the people at the Cornucopia Institute who spurred the investigation, aren't happy with the decision. A recent Washington Post article calls the investigation into question. “Federal regulators believe Aurora, and other large members of the industry lobby group Organic Trade Association, are 'too big to fail,'" said Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute. The article states that following the original Post article, Aurora made significant changes to their management practices to increase grazing rates.

In addition to High Plains, Aurora Organic has other farms in Colorado and Texas and operates an organic dairy processing plant in Platteville, Colorado. It announced in April that it would build a $90 million dairy plant in Missouri and employ 150 people there.