Our customers are smart and passionate people who like to make up their own minds. We respect that, as we do their need for credible and reliable information. Toward that end, we are providing our response to key issues raised in the recently issued Wisconsin-based report card, which offers a highly misleading and inaccurate portrayal of Petaluma Egg Farms. This fact sheet is intended to provide essential background and a context for understanding the report card, which we believe lacks credibility in the following critical ways
The Report Card’s Methodology is Biased & Flawed:
It is hard to take seriously any report that relies on third-hand information and assumptions. The approach used by Cornucopia would be like your child being graded by a teacher who never steps foot in the classroom, has never spoken with your child, is unfamiliar with the state educational standards and student demographics and has no grasp of the subject matter.
Here are some very specific problems with the survey:
- It was self-reporting – so respondents could lie without any way to confirm or dispute their claims
- We chose not to participate in the survey because we had never heard of this group
- It is unscientific
- It was not peer-reviewed
- The report card authors are from out-of-state and have little, if any, knowledge of California egg farming, ecology, regulations, climate or veterinary medicine
- They never toured our farm
- The survey was skewed to micro farms that “pasture” extremely small numbers of hens
- It ignored the fact our national standards recognize our outdoor access methods
- It ignores the “totality” of what it means to be organic
- In doing so, the report card fails to adequately recognize such core organic values as being pesticide free, cage free, etc.
- We were the only Northern California producer mentioned even though there are at least four other area organic egg producers that were not part of the report.
- All of these producers have a history of caged production. Each is a “Johnny-Come-Lately” having switched to organic only in the last few years. In contrast, we have been 100% cage free and certified organic for almost 28 years! Why are we being attacked?
- The report card inexplicably includes Costco, “O” and Clover brands even though they do not raise chickens or produce eggs themselves.
The Report Card Gives Short Shrift to Critical Organic Principles
It is not surprising that such a questionable survey with no understanding of our operations would result in what is essentially a smear campaign against the hard-earned reputation built over the years by Petaluma Egg Farms. The report places very little weight, if any, on the many ways we humanely treat our hens, our commitment to organic and protecting the environment. Specifically, the report card does not fully acknowledge that our operations are:
- 100% Certified Organic from the most respected of independent auditors
- Cage Free
- Pesticide Free
- Herbicide Free
- Hormone Free
- Antibiotics Free
Furthermore, our approach offers:
- Open space that exceeds organic standards
- Outdoors access via sun porches
- 100% Organically Certified Vegetarian Feed
- Abundant natural light
- Abundant natural air
- Water conservation
- Protection to the environment through organic principles, which annually prevents the use of tons of herbicides and pesticides
The Report Card Does Not Understand the Reality of Farming in California
Californians are special people and California is a special state. We have needs and issues that are unique to us – not just statewide, but even regionally within the state. This is especially true for California farmers, who cannot be judged by a cookie-cutter approach from those who don’t appreciate the Golden State. Specifically:
- California has unique challenges not faced in the Midwest, including water, climate, threat of disease and public health regulations
- California has a history of serious disease outbreaks, from Avian Influenza to Newcastle Disease and Salmonella
- State veterinary health officials have strongly advised us to safeguard our birds, who could die en masse from diseases transmitted by wild birds and rodents and spread these diseases to humans, other animals and states
The Report Card Fails to Understand Our Approach to Outdoors
The key criticism of Petaluma Egg Farms in the report card centers on pasturing of birds – a claim we have never made. We are being attacked for using an alternative method known as the “sun porch” system, which complies with national organic standards for outdoor access. Consider the following:
- Sun porches extend out from large cage-free pens. This allows hens to step outside without being exposed to disease and predators.
- Sides of pens are screened which provide natural light and ventilation
- Hens enjoy perches, nests, and scratch
- Sun porches comply with national organic standards for outdoor access
- We have chosen this method because we believe it is in the best health and safety interests of our hens and our customers
- The sun porch system provides our birds with the best of both worlds – they are able to exhibit natural behavior in their environment while also remaining protected from the threat of disease and wild animals
- We will neither jeopardize the lives of our hens nor compromise the safety of our customers
- There are indeed many interpretations of what constitutes outdoor access
- Under our local conditions, we continue to believe that our open-air system combined with sun porches is the best way to humanely and ethically care for our hens while keeping with national organic standards