Aurora Organic Dairy
Aurora Organic Dairy is a large factory farm milk producer bottling private-label organic milk for Walmart, Costco, and Target that was co-founded in 2003 by Mark Retzloff and Marc Peperzak. According to the company's website, "Aurora Organic Dairy is the leading producer of private-brand organic milk and butter for U.S. retailers. Based in Boulder, Colorado, we operate a calf ranch and organic dairy farms in Colorado and Texas, as well as an organic dairy processing plant in Platteville, Colorado." These "farms" have anywhere from 1,000 to several thousand cows at each location, for a total of about 12,000 milking cows as of 2008.
In April 2007, complaints by the organic watchdog organization Cornucopia Institute led to the U.S. Department of Agriculture issuing Aurora a "notice of proposed revocation" of its organic certification for "willful" violations of federal organic standards. According to Colorado Biz Today, "The USDA listed 14 violations, among them that Aurora Organic had entered conventional cows into milk production before the required one-year period of continuous organic management, and had failed to establish and maintain cows’ access to pasture at its Platteville facility. . . . Aurora Organic settled with the USDA in August 2007, agreeing among other things to reduce the size of its herd at the Platteville farm from 4,200 to 1,000 cows and increase its grazing pastures by 75 acres." But that settlement also did not involve any financial penalty for the company.
Aurora co-founder Mark Retzloff told FORTUNE Magazine that he feels victimized by the charges, despite the slap on the wrist issued without financial penalty (the Cornucopia Institute called this a "sweetheart deal"). "We don't think we did anything wrong," Retzloff said, adding that he thinks current rules about access to pasture are too vague and other violations listed by the USDA were either trivial or committed by a supplier that the company no longer uses. "People are saying you're not putting your cows out to pasture," he says. "Well, we are. Just not the way you'd like us to."
According to Colorado Biz Today, "Class-action lawsuits on behalf of consumers have been filed against not only Aurora Organic but against retailers such as Costco, Wal-Mart and Safeway that carry Aurora Organic milk under various private labels. Nineteen different lawsuits, representing plaintiffs in at least 40 states, have been consolidated in U.S. District Court in St. Louis."
As of February 2013:
- Marc Peperzak – Chief Executive Officer
- Scott McGinty – President
- Cammie Muller – Chief Financial Officer
- Juan Velez, M.V., M.S., Dipl. A.C.T. – Senior Vice President, Farm Operations
- Jay C. Wilson - Senior Vice President, Technical Services
- Gary Sebek – Senior Vice President Corporate Development
- Sally Keefe – Vice President, Government & Legal Affairs
- Dan Placke – Vice President, Farm Financial Services
- Jim Abraham – Vice President, Sales
- Merritt Horn – Director, Information Technology
- Donna Getman – Director, Human Resources & Corporate Services
- Mark Retzloff, former President and co-founder (with Mark Peperzak)
Aurora Organic Dairy
1919 14th Street, Suite 300
Boulder, CO 80302-5328
Phone: (720) 564-6296
Email: info AT auroraorganic DOT com
Resources and Articles
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Aurora Organic Dairy About, organizational web page, accessed February 10, 2013.
- Mike Taylor, Dairy’s battle reflects conflicting views as organic ‘locavore’ movement gains ground, Colorado Biz Today, September 3, 2008, republished by the Cornucopia Institute.
- Marc Gunther, An organic milk war turns sour, Fortune, October 3, 2007.
- Aurora Organic Dairy, Team, organizational website, accessed February 10, 2013.
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