Massive AZ Dairy Farm Faces Organic Certification Suspension

By on Friday, December 16th, 2011

It only took three years, but yesterday the USDA recommended Shamrock Farms, a large dairy operation south of Phoenix, have its organic certification suspended due to multiple violations. The action stemmed from efforts by The Cornucopia Institute, which received tips that the pasture was overgrazed and that the dairy cattle are confined for weeks at a time. The Cornucopia Institute is made up of 6,000 organic farm owners, and acts as an organic industry watchdog.

The USDA uses third-party certifiers to conduct inspections, issue certification, enforce compliance with federal and to suspend offenders when necessary. Quality Assurance International, which handles Shamrock Farms, is also being questioned by The Cornucopia Institute as to its efficiency in doing an adequate job monitoring violators. “Over the past few years there has been a surplus of organic milk, which injured plenty of farms like mine,” says member farmer John Boere. “Ethical producers like me could have recovered some of our income if certifiers and the USDA had been doing their jobs.”

Written by Erika Kotite

Erika Kotite is an editor, writer and owner of Toque.


  1. Do you know how often a reccomendation turns into an actual suspension? Just curious.

  2. Erika Kotite says:

    Good question and I am looking into it.

  3. Erika Kotite says:

    Hey Anne,
    This response on how often USDA recs turn into actual suspensions is from Mark Lastel at The Cornucopia Institute: “Most of the time when the USDA catches someone breaking the law the suspension goes into effect right away. In the one other major incident that I know of, where it was appealed, the USDA eventually prevailed and the outfit lost it certification. I trust that will happen in this case as well.”

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