Organic Food's $6 Billion Dilemma

February 21, 2017 01:32 PM

Although sales of U.S. organic food exceed $6 billion annually, federal funding into organic production hasn’t kept pace. That’s one of the conclusions in a recent report from the Organic Farming Research Foundation, a research and organic advocacy nonprofit based in Santa Cruz, Calif.

Based on a survey of more than 1,200 organic farmers, the report calls out five areas within organic agriculture it says are especially in need of exploration:

  1. Soil health and fertility management
  2. Weed management
  3. Nutritional benefits
  4. Insect management
  5. Disease management

Consumer purchases of organic food hit $6.2 billion in 2015, the most recent year for which data points are available. Yet organic research has enjoyed limited funding, receiving just $1.48 million from 2010 to 2014 within USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative programs compared to $1.38 billion for non-organic research.

“Increased funding for research on critical issues related to soil health and fertility, weed control, invasive insect pests and the nutritional quality of organic food will provide organic farmers with knowledge and tools to enhance their production and marketing,” the report notes. “In addition, areas of particular concern to organic farmers, such as GM crop contamination and climate change, warrant increased attention.”

You can download a full copy of the 126-page report titled “2016 National Organic Research Agenda”. 

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