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Organic Farmers Not Allowed to Treat Sick Cows

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
This weekend, I watched the doc No Impact Man. During the film, he interviewed a local (upstate New York) farmer. He asked the farmer why he didn't try to get the organic certification, because he noticed that the farm WAS (what he thought would be) organic.

The farmer said that he did not want the organic label because that would mean he could not treat his sick cows. He said that if one of his cows were to get sick with an easily treatable illness, he would have to let him stay sick and, possibly, die. He felt that was not humane.

I know this issue is obvious to many, I had just never thought about it before.

I was going to research this a little more, but I thought I would be lazy and just ask you all of you had any insight into this tricky situation.

It really made me think, because I have been militant about organic milk with my kids. I'm not sure where I stand now.
post #2 of 7
You have to be careful with that organic lable. Don't get me wrong, it is a good thing but there is a middle ground that the organic lable doesn't seem to touch. I was raised on a dairy farm and my parents took good care of their cows. But my mother did treat with antibiotics when a cow was sick and that milk is never pumped into the main tank, it is one of the things that the main plant does test for.

The main thing I watch for, when it comes to milk, is BST free milk. BST is a growth hormone that is OKed by the FDA for human comsumption. While I won't argue with the FDA regarding their stand on the hormone, I also will not give it to my children. But I also will not buy milk with BST because the farmer that uses this product is not providing the best life for their cows. Cows that are given BST tend to have a higher infection level of mastitis, requiring more antibiotics, and typically a shorter life expancney because their bodies were not created with such high levels of milk production in mind.

Hoping this makes sense, I'm still slightly in my mono induced fog.
post #3 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Addimom View Post

This weekend, I watched the doc No Impact Man. During the film, he interviewed a local (upstate New York) farmer. He asked the farmer why he didn't try to get the organic certification, because he noticed that the farm WAS (what he thought would be) organic.

The farmer said that he did not want the organic label because that would mean he could not treat his sick cows. He said that if one of his cows were to get sick with an easily treatable illness, he would have to let him stay sick and, possibly, die. He felt that was not humane.

I know this issue is obvious to many, I had just never thought about it before.

I was going to research this a little more, but I thought I would be lazy and just ask you all of you had any insight into this tricky situation.

It really made me think, because I have been militant about organic milk with my kids. I'm not sure where I stand now.

I was under the impression that you could give a sick cow antibiotics, but afterward, you could never again market the milk from that particular cow as organic. For a commercial dairy, that would eefectively mean no longer using that cow, since milk tends to go into a common tank, and milking her separately would not be cost-effective. So she would most likely just go to slaughter.
post #4 of 7

This is a common misconception of  a conventional farmer who isn't truly educated on how an organic farm operates. Cows are an extremely valuable asset to organic farmers just as much as they are to a conventional guy like this one. Therefore, organic farmers strive to prevent any illnesses by always ensuring cows are in a comfortable, healthy environment, have an extremely well balanced ration of feed being fed to them everyday that doesn't push production- rather it provides the best nutrition possible. Just by feeding cows differently (grazing, forage based diets, etc) the organic farm sees far fewer illnesses in cows than conventional.

 

In addition, the fact that this guy told you that he wouldn't be able to treat a cows if she becomes sick and that she would have to suffer and possibly die really makes it clear how uneducated he is on organics. We DO treat our cows promtly as possible with the onset of illness. We just have different ways to treat illnesses when they arise with natural and organic methods. There are also some approved antibiotics but our with holding time is double or triple what it would be for a conventional farmer (meaning if a conventional farmer needed to keep her out of the milk tank for 5 days, we would need to for 10 or more). In addition, as a very last resort we will treat with antibiotics and sell the cow to a conventional neighbor because we can't make her organic again. It's very rare that a cow would go to slaughter because she got ill. If an organic farmer had a cow so ill he's sending her to slaughter for an, the conventional farmer would likely be doing the same thing.

 

By the way we have been organic farmers for 13 years as of this Feb. We have had very few instances where we have had to cull cows because of illness and we have had less than a handful that I can remember that needed to be sold to the neighbor in the last 5 or so years (serisouly). Bottom line illness is rare on an organic farm, this is contrary to belief but it's what we and many of our organic friends after transition from conventional to organic. 

 

Hope this clears some things up...

post #5 of 7

We are organic and do the same thing by keeping the ill cows out of the tank and also take EXCEPTIONAL care of our animals. The organic label is what it says so I'm curious what you mean when you say "there are things it doesn't touch"???

 

Also, every plant does antibiotic testing (among many other tests) but there are levels that are allows in conventional while NONE are allows in organic. If an organic load tests positive for antibiotics, it is sold conventional or grade b and goes into cheese. 

post #6 of 7
Neither organic or "conventional" milk can have antibiotic residue. It is ILLEGAL.
Anyone who suggests otherwise ( previous post) has no clue. Yes they test it every pick up but if your milk tests positive, it is dumped. You might get paid that one time, but it's still dumped, no matter what kind of farm it came from. If a "conventional" dairy has a sick cow, she is treated ( much like our own children). The cows being treated are milked earlier (before) the rest and that milk is either dumped or could be pasteurized to feed the calves. The tank and everything else are completely sanitized before the rest of the herd is milked. Period. I also question the previous post about extra witholding time on an organic dairy? If the cow can't return to the milking herd, why would it matter the withholding time at all? Sick happens, no matter the farm and since only a minuscule number of dairies use rBST these days, you can't really blame its use on increased problems!
post #7 of 7

This is a false statement. There is no law stating that any farmer organic or otherwise is not allowed to treat a sick cow. Here is what this actually means.

 

If any farmer needs to treat a cow with antibiotics the milk cannot be used whether it is organic or not. ALL MILK IS TESTED BEFORE IT GOES TO MARKET. 

 

The farmers milk is tested before being mixed into one big vat for processing. If a farmer treated a cow with antibiotics and then sent the milk in for processing the FDA can trace the source. No milk with antibiotics is allowed for sale organic or non organic. If the farmer gets caught selling antibiotic milk he is then forced to buy the entire lot he contaminated.

 

A cow treated with antibiotics has to be taken out of production and allowed to rest for a certain period of time.

 

BHT is a growth hormone that is given to cows to produce larger quantities of milk. This hormone is not regulated by the FDA except that for ogranic milk it is not allowed to be used on organic cows. BHT can be tested for to prove that the milk does not have BHT.

 

These articles are designed by the food industries that are loosing market share in the chemical food processing chain. This type of article is war on consumers rights to know what is in their food. If one goes to justlabelit.org you can find out more about what is in your food supply.

 

The organization just label it is fighting for consumers so we know what is on our food. Their goal is not to stop production of chemical foods but so that the consumer is aware of what we are buying. While most people may not think knowing is important it is extremely important for people who have severe food allergies to know if their food has been genetically modified with some sort of nut gene if they are allergic to nuts. Foods that aren't supposed to contain these genes then become a death sentence for these people. Also if someone has celiacs disease it is important for them to know what is in their food.

 

I really wish people would do their research about what is going on with our food supply.

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