USDA commissions organic dairy study


USDA commissions organic dairy study

May 09, 2009
By staff
National Report -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to know more about organic dairy farming and whether it's as healthy for cows as it is for people.

The $1 million, four-year study funded by the USDA will involve 300 dairy farms in Wisconsin, New York and Oregon. Two-hundred of those farms are organic and the remainder are conventional dairy farms.

The study was spurred by a growing interest in organic foods and whether a lack of antibiotics and hormones in the day-to-day maintenance of cattle herds is negatively affecting their health and welfare.

"This is one of the largest, if not the largest applied research projects on organic milk production on U.S. dairy farms," says Linda Tikofsky, a co-principal investigator and senior extension associate at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine. "The study allows for a comparison between conventional dairy farms and organic farms, and will provide enough information to look at herd factors within the organic farms that are associated with disease and well-being."

Dr. Pamela Ruegg of the University of Wisconsin-Madison will lead the study. Others involved include Dr. Mike Gamroth of Oregon State University, Charles Benbrook of the Organic Centre in Oregon and Dr. Ynte Schukken of Cornell.