Horizon Organic Dairy, America's largest organic food company, commented positively today on the release of the final draft of federal regulations for organic production. The United States Department of Agriculture, (USDA) conducted a press conference today at 11:00 a.m. EST to announce the release, and review the highlights.

``We are very pleased that USDA has developed these high standards for organic agriculture,'' said Chuck Marcy, president and CEO of Horizon Organic. ``The announcement is a victory for the industry and its consumers, who have been working toward federal standards for more than a decade,'' said Marcy. ``Horizon Organic and its founders, Mark Retzloff and Paul Repetto, have been working with the USDA and the organic industry as a whole to develop an organic regulation with integrity since the company's inception in 1991. Furthermore, even before Horizon Organic was founded, Mark and Paul were instrumental in the passage of the Organic Food Production Act of 1990, which formed the basis of the National Organic Program.''

``The federal regulations contain several key provisions that Horizon Organic believes are particularly important,'' said Marcy. ``First, the standards emphasize the importance of animal welfare in an organic system. Under the new standards, organic livestock cannot be given hormones or antibiotics. In addition, livestock raised under organic practices must have access to pasture. Finally, the standards require that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) as well as toxic and synthetic pesticides and fertilizers must be excluded from organic agriculture. With these important provisions, the USDA has ensured that consumers will get what they expect when they choose certified organic products for their families.''

Horizon Organic has practiced strict organic standards since its founding in order to produce the highest-quality organic dairy products. All Horizon Organic products are certified organic and are grown and processed without the use of synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones and other genetically modified ingredients. Horizon Organic is committed to maintaining these strict standards and working with Quality Assurance International, its third-party certifier to obtain the ``USDA Certified Organic'' seal.

The USDA released its first draft of the proposed rule for federal organic standards in 1997. That draft included several issues of concern for Horizon Organic Dairy, including the potential allowance of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), food irradiation, sewage sludge and antibiotics in dairy production. Horizon Organic asked consumers, via 2.5 million milk carton panels, to write to USDA to express their dissatisfaction with the rule. The consumer comments added to the record-breaking 283,000 total comments received by USDA. A second round of public comments was sought and considered by the USDA, before releasing today's final regulation. The document will now be sent to the U.S. Congress for a 60-day review period before being implemented.

Horizon Organic produces and markets the leading brand of certified organic milk and a full line of refrigerated, certified organic dairy products. The company also markets certified organic eggs and juices. Horizon Organic products can be found in conventional supermarkets and natural foods stores across the U.S. and in the U.K. For more information, please visit the Company's web site at www.horizonorganic.com.