U.S. Farmers Can’t Keep Up With America’s Appetite for Organic Food

produce U.S. Farmers Cant Keep Up With Americas Appetite for Organic Food

(via: Scientific American)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. farmers are having a hard time keeping up with Americans’ voracious appetite for organic foods, say industry leaders, who want federal officials to boost spending on crop research and market development.

Organic food sales grow by as much as 20 percent a year and were forecast for $16 billion during 2006, or nearly 3 percent of all U.S. food spending, the Organic Trade Association said at a pair of congressional hearings.

“In the United States, the buzz about organic has become a steady hum,” said Lynn Clarkson, an organic farmer and member of the OTA board. “Organic foods are increasingly sold in mainstream retail establishments, which together represent roughly 46 percent of sales.”
Clarkson told a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on Tuesday that organic production was climbing “but not at a rate to meet the consumer demand” so imports are rising. Mark Lipson of the Organic Farming Research Foundation presented a similar assessment at the House of Representatives Agriculture subcommittee hearing last week.

According to the U.S. Agriculture Department, there are at least 8,500 organic farmers with more than 4 million acres of crop and pasture land.

A “fair share” of USDA research and outreach spending should be $120 million a year, 10 times current outlays, said Lipson.

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