May 17, 2013

Organic industry clout grows with consumer demand

Mary Clare Jalonick / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Bottles of Heinz organic tomato ketchup are on display inside Costco in Mountain View, Calif. The organic industry has exploded in the last decade, with $35 billion in sales and 10 percent growth just last year. There are more than 17,000 certified organic businesses in the country.

AP

"How do I present organic pork without disparaging non-organic pork?" asked House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., who opposed the amendment.

Mike Conaway, R-Texas, took issue with part of the amendment that would allow the organic producers to opt out of other commodity campaigns, an option that isn't given to conventional producers.

"Looks to me like they have a free ride on this thing," Conaway said, in an at times angry exchange with Schrader.

Despite the rancor, the chances that the amendment will become law are good, as the Senate Agriculture Committee added the same amendment to its version of the farm bill.

Schrader told his colleagues that embracing organics is essential to appealing to consumers in a time when big farms are often demonized by popular culture. He said that many young people are coming back to farms because of nontraditional agriculture.

"American agriculture is under siege," he said. "Urban folks do not understand where their food and fiber comes from. ... The point here is to hopefully position American agriculture where we're not always trying to catch up to what the American consumer wants."

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