The following is a portion of an article by Jerry Hagstrom , Agweek
As attendees at the Organic Trade Association luncheon April 15 ate a salad with bulgur wheat from his organic farm, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., the only organic farmer in the Senate, said advocates would have to work hard to achieve labeling of genetically modified foods, and that more farmers would transition to organic operations if the land-grant colleges paid more attention to organics.
Several attendees at the conference said the biggest challenge the organic industry faces now is a shortage of supply, particularly for feed for animals, and one asked Tester why people are not converting to organic production when the price for organic wheat is four times that of conventional wheat.
Tester said he thinks farmers follow what the land-grant colleges tell them to do, and the land-grants have not taken a proper interest in organics.
“We won’t get young people to come back to the farm as long as the university message is ‘get big or get out,’” Tester said.
“Land-grants have not given organics any credit, and farmers follow the land-grants,” he said. Farmers don’t have the tools to make the transition to organics, Tester said, adding that those tools come from experiment stations and neighbors.
The end of congressional earmarks has made it harder to order the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund organic research projects, he said.
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