I’ve always known that organic food is the healthiest food that we can put into our bodies and is truly what people want to be eating.
The Thomson Reuters report a few months ago confirmed this when it claimed that 58% of the country prefers organic food.
But what I read the other day really blew me away.
In an announcement by Kathleen Merrigan, the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and a huge proponent of organics, she said that more than two-thirds of U.S. consumers buy organic products at least occasionally and 28% buy organic products weekly.
To hear these numbers, and having them come from the USDA nonetheless, was really shocking and a fantastic surprise.
If more than 66% of the country is buying organic at least occasionally, this means that a majority of the country has an awareness and appreciation for organic.
Doesn’t this then beg the following question – If a majority of the country holds organic food in such high regard, shouldn’t our agricultural subsidies be reflective of this?
It absolutely should, but organic receives just a tiny fraction of USDA money compared to what GMO and conventionally-grown food gets.
Why is this?
Monsanto, Big Ag, and other GMO organizations have a lot of money and influence.
The organic industry has very little money and influence. Making matters worse is that there are charges of corruption at the Organic Trade Association, with its board of directors being controlled by GMO companies.
As an individual, how can you make a difference?
We need 1 to 4 million people expressing their opinions on this vital matter. Despite the fact that organic food is so popular, the industry’s survival is at stake because GMO forces are so powerful in Washington and they are doing everything they can to make organic disappear.
With its announcement of these amazing statistics about organic food, the USDA also also announced 23 grants totaling $19 million for the organic industry
Funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture through two unique programs, the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and the Organic Transitions Program (ORG), the grants are to help organic producers and processors continue to grow, develop and market high quality organic products.
Below is a list of all of the grant recipients and what the money will be used to fund. Needless to say, it is quite interesting.
Auburn University, Auburn, Ala., $881,829 – The long-term goal of this project is to expand organic crucifer vegetable production in the south by developing and demonstrating effective IPM strategies approved by the National Organic Program and the Organic Materials Review Institute.
Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Ala., $49,886 – The goal of this planning project is to organize an organic agriculture stakeholders’ meeting to identify the challenges that producers face and potential solutions for alleviating them so as to create economic opportunities for limited-resource farmers in Alabama.
University of California, Santa Cruz, Calif., $2,608,205 – Through a series of seminars, workshops, newsletters and online resources, this project seeks to share research that will help organic growers improve environmental sustainability and economic viability in a comprehensive manner.
Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $45,695 – This planning grant will help the project team prepare a multi-disciplinary, multi-state, multi-commodity 2012 full proposal on the development and delivery of organic pest management for the brown marmorated stink bug.
University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn., $380,923 – This project will improve organic soybean and dry bean production by developing new organic varieties with enhanced competitiveness in weed control and soil nitrogen fertility.
University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H., $2,863,915 – This project will enhance the year-round capacity of Northeast organic dairy producers to produce high quality component-enriched organic milk.
New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, N.M., $36,102 – This planning grant will help the project team develop a future competitive Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative grant proposal to generate and disseminate research on improved production management practices of organic peanut farming in the Southwest.
Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., $2,356,999 – Research conducted by this project will increase production, profitability and sustainability of organic wheat and specialty crops by identifying factors that reduce yields, efficiency, productivity and the economic and socioeconomic contributions of organic farming to producers, processors and local communities.
Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, Inc., Rochester, N.Y., $49,663 – This project will bring researchers from across the Northeast together to share their relevant organic agricultural research with organic farmers from the region at the Northeast Organic Research Symposium.
Ohio State University, Wooster, Ohio, $896,092 – This project will study the feasibility of incorporating pasture-raised organic poultry and naked oats into a multi-year organic rotation plan.
Oregon State University, Corvallis, Ore., $475,835 – This project will work toward the development of non-antibiotic treatments for the control of fire blight in organic apple and pear crops.
Oregon State University, Corvallis, Ore., $46,580 – This planning grant will help the project team develop a future project researching the impacts of functional agricultural biodiversity by identifying constraints to biodiversity enhancement on organic farms in the western United States.
Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Penn., $2,296,803 – The main goal of this project is to quantify the benefits and trade-offs of using diverse cover crop mixtures in organic feed rotations.
Washington State University, Pullman, Wash., $45,239 – This grant will support the International Organic Fruit Symposium in June 2012, which aims to maintain the viability of the current organic fruit sector, while expanding into under-represented production regions, by sharing the latest research knowledge and experience on organic fruit production, marketing and economics, and establishing priorities for future organic fruit research and extension efforts.
Washington State University, Pullman, Wash., $28,891 – This grant will sponsor a conference to foster the development of economically viable and environmentally sustainable dryland organic farming systems in the Pacific Northwest.
Downstream Strategies, LLC, Morgantown, W.V., $50,000 – This planning project surveys organic, in-transition and conventional farmers in West Virginia to discover current organic fruit and vegetable commodity production and real and perceived barriers to the adoption of organic practices.
USDA Agricultural Research Service, Fayetteville, Ark., $640,605 – This project will investigate the effectiveness of feeding chickens combinations of organically based plant extracts, fatty acids and lactose to reduce or eliminate the incidence of foodborne pathogens Salmonella and Campylobacter in organic poultry production.
USDA Agricultural Research Service, Peoria, Ill., $2,097,770 – This project will develop and release carrots that are adapted to organic growing conditions with market qualities demanded by organic consumers, such as improved field performance, nutritional value, flavor and storage quality.
University of Maryland, College Park, Md., $411,916 – This project will demonstrate the viability of reduced- and no-till organic vegetable production systems to improve knowledge on the effects of minimal- and low-tillage systems in transitioning vegetable cropping systems on greenhouse gas emissions, soil properties, crop profitability and pest dynamics.
Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $749,106 – This project will determine the potential of cover crops as a farm management option for improving nitrogen timing with cash crops, evaluate the impact of cover crops on nitrous oxide emissions, and improve farmer knowledge of cover crop benefits to nitrogen use and farm economics.
University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo., $742,217 – This project will improve organic cropping systems by increasing grain productivity, suppressing weeds and providing fertility while reducing negative impacts on the environment.
Montana State University, Bozeman, Mont., $742,907 – This project will develop a holistic sheep and organic crop production system that uses targeted sheep grazing to reduce tillage intensity, nitrogen leaching, greenhouse gas emissions and improve soil fertility and soil carbon sequestration.
Washington State University, Pullman, Wash., $745,493 – This project will research management practices that integrate cover crops, tillage practices, organic amendments and livestock to improve soil quality, utilize nitrogen more efficiently and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from soil and farm machinery.