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US (WI): Senator vows continued support for organic growersUS senator Herb Kohl has vowed to continue supporting organic farming during his final year in office.
“In my experience in the Senate, nothing has been more satisfying for me than to see the growth and development of organic farming,” Kohl told the nation’s largest organic farming conference Friday in La Crosse. “You can count on my everlasting support for what you do.”
In remarks to a packed house at the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service’s conference, Kohl praised the values of organic producers as well as their contribution to the economy.
“We share a belief that real achievement is leaving the world a better place than we found it,” Kohl said. “MOSES has shown that sustainability is not only the right thing to do but that it can also be profitable.”
This year's conference is the 23rd of its kind and is the biggest yet. There were an estimated 3,500 delegates. The recent and much celebrated, agreement with the European Union on organic foods was very timely and had led to a real buzz amongst organic growers.
Faye Jones, executive director for MOSES, said attendance is a sign of an improving economy, growing interest from young people and general excitement about the organic sector.
“Organic is just a regular option,” Jones said. “It’s not fringe anymore.”
Kohl said that agriculture in general was a major part of the economy and that organic was now a key part of that.
“No longer is the organic sector ‘small potatoes,’” Kohl said. “You are indeed a major part of the farm economy of our country.”
Across the US organic fruits and vegetable accounted for 11% of all produce sales in 2010 and revenues have been increasing year on year until they reached their current rate of being somewhere in the region of $27 billion. Wisconsin has 1,200 organic farms and ranks second only to California.
Kohl also pledged to work to continue funding for the Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program, which received $7 million in the last budget.
The USDA has requested an additional $3 million this year to enhance enforcement, ensure the integrity of the organic label, and develop equivalency agreements to expand market access for U.S. organic products.
“Some people see government spending as always a waste, but I believe that smart investments can pay off and help the private sector create prosperity,” Kohl said. “I want to see a better Wisconsin in the future, a better Midwest, and a better country — one that can feed more people, support more jobs and still give the next generation a fruitful and scenic landscape.”
Publication date: 2/27/2012
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