Systemic Abuses in Organic Egg Production

The Cornucopia Institute has released a report that exposes widespread abuses in the production of organic eggs, primarily by large factory farms.

The study compares management practices employed by small organic egg farmers with those of large industrial operations that label eggs ‘organic’ that have been produced by chickens confined by the hundreds of thousands in industrial facilities.

According to Cornucopia News:

“After visiting over 15% of the certified egg farms in the United States, and surveying all name-brand and private-label industry marketers, it’s obvious that a high percentage of the eggs on the market should be labeled ‘produced with organic feed’ rather than bearing the USDA-certified organic logo,” said Mark A. Kastel, The Cornucopia Institute’s codirector and senior farm policy analyst.”

Eighty percent of all organic eggs are produced by a handful of operations. Most of these businesses own hundreds of thousands to millions of birds and market a percentage of their produce as ‘specialty eggs,’ one of which is organic. Most of the giant henhouses used by these factory farms provide no legitimate access to the outdoors, which is a requirement of federal organic regulations.

“Many of these operators are gaming the system by providing minute enclosed porches, with roofs and concrete or wood flooring, and calling these structures ‘the outdoors,’” stated Charlotte Vallaeys, a farm policy analyst with Cornucopia and lead author of the report. “Many of the porches represent just 3 to 5 percent of the square footage of the main building housing the birds. That means 95 percent or more of the birds have absolutely no access whatsoever.”

Per Cornucopia News, family farm-scale organic egg farmers will challenge agribusiness lobbyists at the October 25 meeting of the NOSB (National Organic Standards Board).

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