Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Organic Farming Could Create Many New Jobs with Government Policy Backing

Photo: greenbiz.com
A new study by the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) has found that organic farming could have a positive impact on the future of the United States economy, creating more jobs than conventional farming and growing as an industry at a much quicker rate.  According to the report, "Organic Farming for Health and Prosperity", the organic industry has been growing at an impressive rate, and even grew through the recession.  Between 1997 and 2008 the organic market grew by 19 percent, and in 2010 it grew by 8 percent to $29 billion.  According to OFRF, conventional agriculture grew just 1 percent during 2010.

In terms of job creation, "organic farms outperform conventional operations by almost two to one. Organic farms hire an average of 61 year-round employees, compared to 28 on conventional farms -- and they also hire more seasonal workers than conventional farms. In 2011, 96 percent of organic operations in the United States are planning to maintain or increase employment levels, according to the report."  Organic farms can hire more people because of the premium their goods receive at market.  When that premium is taken away, returns on organic farms are "statistically equal" to those of conventional farms.  Organic farmers require the price premium to stay economically viable because they currently don't have the same government-backed support system as conventional farms do.  If government investment is made in organic farming relative to the industry's growth, organic farming would be truly profitable.

As a result of these findings, "OFRF wants Congress to increase organic research funding from $15 million in the current Farm Bill to $30 million, add $5 million in mandatory funding over the five-year life of the bill for the Organic Data Initiative to bring it in line with reporting for conventional ag, and to provide $30 million over the life of the bill to offset the costs of soil testing for new and small organic farmers."

To read more about OFRF's proposals in the new Farm Bill, and to read the full article about OFRF's report, click here.

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