A Wisconsin-based farm policy research group, The Cornucopia Institute, has filed a formal legal complaint in an attempt to immediately halt USDA from allowing factory farms producing "organic" milk from bringing conventional dairy cattle onto their farms. Cornucopia claims the practice, which places family-scale farmers at a competitive disadvantage, is explicitly prohibited in the federal regulations governing the organic industry.
The Institute believes conventional replacement dairy calves; typically bought at auctions, likely receive antibiotics and toxic insecticides as well as conventional feed during their first year of life before being "converted" to organics: all practices strictly prohibited in organic production. Mark Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst for Cornucopia says real organic farmers don't buy replacement heifers, they sell surplus heifers.
The current federal livestock standards state: "Once an entire, distinct herd has been converted to organic production, all dairy animals shall be under organic management from the last third of gestation." Meaning, before the calf is even born, it must be managed organically. New York farmer Kathie Arnold believes the Cornucopia complaint will result in a fair and equitable standard that is the same for all farms.