News bites, March 2001

This article was originally published in March 2001

Ocean Spray

By a two-thirds majority, grower-owners voted to keep Ocean Spray a cooperative instead of selling the company as some growers had proposed. The price ofcranberries is below production cost, but according to company officials,”without the cooperative to buy their fruit they would probably earn less on the open market.” (New York Times)

USDA budget

The USDA has budgeted $30 billion dollars in taxpayer money for conventional (non-organic) agribusiness over the next 12 months while investing less than $10 million dollars in organic. A full $17 billion of our tax money will be handed over to the nation’s largest (the top 10 percent) factory farms, according to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). The Organic Consumers Association is calling for an end to what it calls “the corporate welfare policies of the USDA,” and for $20 billion dollars a year to help farmers make the conversion to organic and to help schools and hospitals buy and serve organic food. The OCA also says that while current rates of growth indicate 10 percent of our agriculture will be organic by 2010, a number of European nations are expecting 30-50 percent of their farms to be organic by 2010.

Mad Cow update

Some members have asked about PCC’s beef program, given recent re ports in the news about animal feed with beef by-products being fed to cattle in violation of US government regulations. Beef by-products in cattle feed are the likely cause of Mad Cow Disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which has been found in European cattle. Nearly 90 people in Britain, Ireland, France, Germany and Spain have been diagnosed with new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (nvCJD), the human form of this always fatal neurological disease. It’s believed that this nvCJD was contracted through eating beef from BSE-infected cows.

The beef sold in PCC’s meat departments is from Country Natural Beef, a cooperative of 14 ranches in eastern Oregon doing business as Oregon Country Beef (OCB). All cattle in the OCB program are sent to one finish feedlot and tracked individually. The feedlot operator has signed an affidavit that states: “I certify that no feed additive antibiotics, hormones, or animal by-products are used in any feed fed to Country Natural Beef cattle.”

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