Cracker the cow laying out in the fieldHawthorne Valley Farm continues to rank in the top 10 organic dairies in the US (ranked 6th), receiving a 5-cow rating by The Cornucopia Institute, a prominent nonprofit organic industry watchdog.

The Institute once again awarded Hawthorne Valley Farm the coveted 5 Cow Top-Rated—Beyond Organic rating. According to The Cornucopia Institute’s website, “This category of producers represents the ‘gold standard’ in dairy production. Producers in this top tier manage diverse, small-to-medium-scale family farms. They emphasize well-managed pasture. Pasture and other forage makes up the majority of their animals’ feed.”

The dairy scorecard rates brands in terms of their procurement practices, separating major industry players, like the private-label milk brands at big-box retailers that exclusively source from mega-dairies, from the many smaller family-owned operations where cows often have names, not numbers.

An article published in Cornucopia News, “USDA-Backed ‘Factory Farm’ Takeover of Organic Milk Production Crushing Family-Scale Farmers and Forcing Them Out of Business: Newly Released Report, and Associated Organic Dairy Brand Scorecard, Enables Defrauded Consumers and Wholesale Buyers to “Vote with Their Pocketbooks” accompanied the release of this year’s scorecard.

“Unlike the industrial dairies, true organic farmers concentrate on soil fertility and nutrient-superior milk production from fresh pasture, and end up with cows that live long and healthy lives in comparison to ‘organic’ industrial dairies that are so similar to the inhumane and ecologically damaging conventional factory farms consumers condemn,” said Ed Maltby, a longtime industry observer and Executive Director of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance.


True organic, pasture-based production produces milk with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and beneficial antioxidants. Testing, done as part of an investigative report in 2017 by The Washington Post, found milk from Aurora Organic Dairy, the industry’s largest supplier to grocery chains like Costco, Safeway and Walmart, was nutritionally deficient compared to organic family-scale production.


“Consumers are being ripped off. My family and I have dedicated ourselves, as have the majority of the over 2,000 organic dairy farmers in this country, to creating a superior product in terms of both flavor and nutrition,” said Kevin Engelbert, who was the first certified organic dairy farmer in the country in the 1980s. “The inaction by the USDA in enforcing the law is depriving consumers of the healthful benefits they are seeking and competitively damaging ethical farmers.”