WASHINGTON — In a clarifying news release issued last night, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced stringent new operating conditions for Aurora Organic Dairy facilities in Colorado and Texas after an extensive review of the nation’s top private-label organic milk processor found deficiencies in several critical areas, including access to pasture, improperly transitioned cows and record-keeping. As part of an agreement reached with federal regulators, Aurora will be monitored for a one-year probationary period, during which time violations may result in revocation of organic certification. Aurora has been downsizing its herd and expanding pasture land at its controversial Platteville, Colo., facility, and will continue to do so as part of the agreement. It has also agreed to forgo renewal of organic certification at its Woodward, Colo., facility, and to implement measures to document the source of cows, as well as their transition to organic, at its Dublin, Texas, operation. The USDA announcement was made after an afternoon release — issued by Aurora — stated that USDA had dismissed complaints of violations, filed in 2005 and 2006 by the Cornucopia Institute, a small-farm advocacy group.
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