Florida Organic Growers Offers Transition Assistance

Florida Organic Growers (FOG) is ramping up efforts to provide free technical assistance to farmers transitioning to organic production as recent reports indicate continued strong growth in U.S. organic sales and strong consumer preference for organic products. Despite the overall weakening economy, U.S. sales of organic products grew 17.1% to $24.6 billion by the end of 2008, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA) 2009 Organic Industry Survey.

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FOG’s Organic Transition Program allows qualifying farmers to work for free with an experienced organic production crop advisor. The advisor, FOG staff and allied professionals assist with challenges faced by transitioning growers and provide information about organic production, marketing, regulations and certification.

“We want Florida farmers to benefit from an organic marketplace that continues to expand,” said FOG Executive Director Marty Mesh. “Consumers have an increased desire to know the foods they are eating are healthy, and produced with as little impact on the environment as possible.”

Findings from the OTA’s 2009 U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes and Beliefs Study show that 31% of surveyed families are purchasing more organic foods compared with a year ago. Many families reported reducing spending in other areas to avoid cutting back on organic food purchases. Seventeen percent of families said their largest increases in spending in the past year were for organic products.

“Impressive market growth during the economic downturn and evidence of strong consumer preference for organic foods point to significant opportunity for organic producers,” Mesh said.

To participate in the Organic Transition Program or to learn more contact FOG at
352-377-6345 or [email protected]; or visit www.foginfo.org/epa