Understanding Organic Food Production

Organic food is one of the fastest growing sectors in agriculture. Organic has mostly focused on smaller farmers with fruit and vegetable production where much of that product is sold directly to the consumer at farmers markets. But what is the consumer getting when they buy organic?

Washington State University Endowed Chair in Small Grains Extension and Research, Dr. Drew Lyon says the farming practices a organic farmer uses depends certifying agency the farmer is registered with.

After a farmer is certified organic they are required to follow management requirements outlined by their certifying agency. One common misconception is that that to be certified organic means there are no pesticides used on organic crops or produce.

Often times this spurs controversy than organic is safer than conventional or biotech crops, but Lyon believes the perceived safeness lies in the eye of the beholder.

Dr. Lyon's career has conducted research on organic at the University of Nebraska High Plains Ag Lab near Sidney and now at Washington State University. As a researcher he doesn't compare different cropping systems

At the end of the day it's about meeting the demands of the consumer. Lyon says there is a segment of society that wants organic products and they are willing to pay more organic food. While there is another segment of society that is not concerned and they are not willing to pay higher price and don't share the same concerns. Lyon says there are markets for both, so we need figure how out produce food both segments.

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