Magazine article USA TODAY

Recession Not Hurting Organic Agriculture

Magazine article USA TODAY

Recession Not Hurting Organic Agriculture

Article excerpt

Despite the crippling effects of the recent economic slowdown on many industries, the organic agriculture sector not only has sustained itself during this period but is showing signs of growth.

"In 2009, organic farming was practiced on 37,200,000 hectares worldwide, a 5.7% increase from 2008 and a 150% increase since 2000," writes policy analyst E.L. Beck in the latest Vital Signs study from the Worldwatch Institute, Washington, D.C.

The International Federation of Organic Movements defines organic agriculture as "a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems, and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity, and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation, and science to benefit the shared environment."

Although organic agriculture is practiced around the world, the certified version tends to be concentrated in wealthier countries. The Group of 20, comprising developing and industrialized nations, is home to 89% of the global certified organic agricultural area.

Although the global organic market has shown growth in the past few years, the rate has slowed since 2000, and there are several challenges that impede large-scale expansion of organic practices. The price premium on organic foods, for instance, may dissuade many consumers from purchasing these products, despite the potential environmental, ethical, and health benefits they provide. …

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