Rodale: 750 percent increase in organic farms is needed

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AUSTIN, Texas – In the single-most ambitious agricultural initiative of this century, Anthony Rodale, chairman of Pennsylvania-based The Rodale Institute and founder of www.NewFarm.org, declared a broad new vision for organic farming in the United States.

Addressing leaders of the U.S. organic industry gathered for a trade show in Austin, Texas, to accept the Organic Trade Association Organic Leadership Award, Rodale called for 100,000 farmers, about 5 percent of America’s remaining 2 million farmers, to transition to certified organic by 2013.

Large increase. Currently, 12,200 farmers are certified organic, according to Rodale.

This would represent a 750 percent increase in the number of certified organic farms and ranches.

Market. The Greenfield, Mass.-based Organic Trade Association reports that the market for organic food and products is more than $11 billion in annual sales, and growing an estimated 20 percent to 30 percent per year.

Rodale, whose grandfather J.I. Rodale coined the term “organic” in 1942, called on leaders to pool resources and work together towards a common, quantifiable vision.

Lose control? “Are we willing to sit back and witness the degeneration of our environment, and quietly lose control of the quality of food we eat every day?” Rodale asked at the ceremony.

“Organic farming is a good business decision for farmers, ” added Rodale. “It’s time for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to affirm and promote organic as an economically viable form of agriculture.”

To achieve his vision, Rodale officially announced the launch of www.NewFarm.org.

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