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Report: Organic Agriculture Gaining Traction in Wisconsin
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 02/24/2012

A new report on the trends of organic agriculture in Wisconsin shows that producers are continuing to find a market for their products, even during troubled economic times. According to the latest edition of the 'Organic Agriculture in Wisconsin' report, prepared by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, the state has about 1,200 organic farms--an increase of 60 percent from 2005-- and leads the nation in number of organic dairy farms.

Milk accounts for about two-thirds of the value of the state's organic farm product sales, while 23 percent come from crops.

The report notes that organic products still claim a relatively small share of the U.S. food dollar. But that number is growing, the study's authors say.

"We didn't realize how much influence organic grain farmers had on the organic market until now," said Mike Schulist, who is the marketing director for the Wisconsin Organic Marketing Association. "Right now, demand is high and supply is tight. It'll take some time to balance out."

The report also includes a snapshot of the state's organic vegetable farms. A UW-Madison survey shows that Wisconsin organic vegetable operations range from small market gardens growing a wide variety of vegetables to larger farms growing a few crops for processing.

And the state's organic food processors add value to the organic meat, milk, produce and other commodities raised here, enabling the state to capture a larger share of the $26.7 billion spent by U.S. consumers on organic food. A 2011 survey by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture found that gross income from Wisconsin organic processing firms ranged from $10,000 to over $100 million. Most well-established organic processors said that sales grew from 2008 to 2011, despite the economic downturn.

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