Organic food watchdog sues USDA


CORNUCOPIA, Wis. – The Cornucopia Institute has filed a lawsuit in federal court demanding the USDA provide public records sought through several Freedom of Information Act requests.
Will Fantle, the institute’s research director, said the organization took the matter to federal court because the USDA has been unwilling to provide records that would help Cornucopia understand why the department has delayed enforcement of key federal organic farming standards for five years
Must share. At issue is the record of correspondence and discussions that have taken place at the USDA between department staff and corporate lobbyists, farm organizations and the public, concerning the requirement that organic dairy cows have access to pasture and obtain a significant portion of their feed from grazing.
Little response. Three Freedom of Information Act requests, filed since August 2005, have never been complied with by the USDA. The agency released some documents in response to a fourth request, but withheld several others, without explanation, according to the institute.
Fantle said frustration with USDA inaction led Cornucopia to investigate the organic dairy industry and what goes into the dairy foods being sold to the consumer.
The institute is a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group and organic food watchdog.


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