Aurora Organic Dairy breaks ground, some voice opposition
COLUMBIA – A dairy processing plant broke ground on Thursday, but some do not support Aurora Organic Dairy coming to town.
The Washington Post published an article earlier this week on the company , saying it does not follow the right organic practices. According to the article, cows kept at an Aurora Organic Dairy’s High Plains complex did not meet the outdoor grazing standards required to consider the products from the cows organic by USDA standards.
A protester showed up at the groundbreaking holding a sign that said “NOT organic, NOT my milk.” Someone in a hardhat approached her and asked her to leave, but she refused. She said she was at the groundbreaking because she was upset about what she had read in articles by the Washington Post and the Columbia Daily Tribune, which also reported on allegations against Aurora Organic Dairy.
The Socially Responsible Agricultural Project also voiced concerns about Aurora Organic Dairy.
“In the case of Aurora, the allegedly fraudulent milk they are dumping in the marketplace is undermining the livelihoods of ethical family farmers,” Mark Kastel, the co-director of the Cornucopia Institute said in a media statement.
A non-organic farmer in Boone County said Aurora Organic Dairy could take away business from smaller farmers, like him. He said Aurora keeps thousands of cows on thousands of acres on its farms. He said this scale of a production can't support organic farming.
“Physically it is not possible for that cow to walk that far two or three times a day, however many times you milk, getting her back and forth to the barn. You can’t do it,” Dennis Schnell said. “On the scale that Aurora is, they’re strictly a machine. I’m sorry, but that’s all they are.”
“Physically it is not possible for that cow to walk that far two or three times a day, however many times you milk, getting her back and forth to the barn. You can’t do it,” Schnell added.
However, many support the diary's new facility in Columbia.
"This is a great day for Columbia," Mayor Brian Treece said about the groundbreaking. He said the company will bring economic development to the city.
David Brennan, Missouri Dairy’s executive director, said the processing plant will benefit Columbia and the entire state.
"Having this processing plant here is huge,” Brennan said. "You’ve gotta have processing plants for the product, and you've gotta have distribution.”
He said Aurora Organic Dairy could prompt even more processing plants to come to Columbia.
"Hopefully we'll grow with Aurora Dairy,” Brennan said.
The company expects construction on the new plant to be done in two years.
[Editor's note: This story has been updated to include another source.]