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Organic industry is exploding in Wisconsin as demand for clean, healthy food outpaces supply


Organic agriculture

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(NaturalNews) While many people still need convincing that choosing organic foods is better for their own health as well as for the environment, that's not the case for Wisconsin residents. There, the organic industry is taking off in full force due to the high demand for healthy foods.

The state, which has the second highest number of organic farms in the country, boasts 69 organic beef and 466 organic dairy farms, as well as 161 organic vegetable and melon farms. While the fact that people throughout the state want to eat foods void of harmful pesticides and disturbing growing practices is certainly uplifting news, residents are discovering that their demand is building faster than the actual supply of such foods.(1)

Rather than seeing this as a problem, many view this surge in organic preferences as an optimistic trend in which healthy lifestyles are chosen over Frankenfoods. Sure, the demand is outpacing the supply, but the fact that the demand is there in the first place shows that people desire healthy options. Furthermore, it's not expected that there will be any food depletion issues due to demand exceeding supply; experts point to consumer and population trends that will likely create balance and meet everyone's needs.

Wisconsin poised to keep its organic agriculture thriving

Dr. Erin Silva, co-author of the "Organic Agriculture in Wisconsin 2015 Status Report," says that it's highly unlikely that consumers will slow down in their requests for organic foods. "With the demand still strong," she said, "we don't foresee a potential erosion of the organic premium. The projections do continue to see demand increasing over the next five years or so."(1)

In addition to increased health awareness in general, Silva also says that younger generations who are interested in organic farming will propel the demand while ensuring its availability.(1)

The report, produced by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, showcases just how Wisconsin's agriculture is thriving. It notes:

Agriculture is a driver of Wisconsin's economy, generating $88 billion for the state annually and contributing nearly 12 percent of Wisconsin's jobs. While organic production is a small part of this industry, it is a critical means of tapping into a rapidly growing agricultural market. The Organic Trade Association reports that organic sales are increasing at a rate of nearly 12 percent per year, and 81 percent of U.S. families are choosing organic food at least sometimes.(2)

The report goes on to express how today's generations -- and subsequent ones -- are being eyed as the force that will maintain these impressive statistics:

Organic agriculture in Wisconsin continues to grow at a steady and gratifying pace. Consumer demand, an important impetus for new organic production, is strong and represented in all age groups and income levels.

Farmers are growing older, and bringing new faces to the profession is an important focus of the agricultural community. Many young and beginning farmers are enthusiastically entering organic agriculture and seeking support from educational, financial and governmental institutions. Wisconsin's technical schools, colleges and universities offer courses in organic production and conduct cutting-edge research to further Wisconsin's organic industry.
(2)

Report outlines optimism, solutions despite potential organic farming challenges

While optimistic, the report notes that keeping organic farming practices in place is not simply about switching from conventional farming practices. A great deal of learning, training and resources such as obtaining and maintaining drying bins and specific kinds of machinery are needed when it comes to organic agriculture, something that's outlined in the report as a potential challenge. But even then, the report presents ideas such as "creating networks of organic grain farmers" in which resources can be pooled.(2)

Farmland rental prices and start-up costs are also mentioned as challenges in the report, with an urging for farmers, nonprofit organizations and state and federal agencies to work together to keep organic agriculture going strong in the state.

"We certainly hope that with the interest of new farmers and a younger population in organic farming that that helps maintain and continues to support the overall agricultural economy," says Silva.(1)

Studies have shown that consuming organic foods is considerably better for health, as they're generally free of antibiotics, pesticides and the problems associated with genetic modification. As such, good health is maintained while horror stories that include even death are kept at bay.(3)

Sources for this article include:

(1) http://www.wpr.org

(2) http://www.cias.wisc.edu[PDF]

(3) http://healthyeating.sfgate.com

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