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Transition to Organic

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Rodale Institute has been synonymous with organic farming for decades. We've watched organic grow from a fringe movement to a multi-billion-dollar industry. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), with participation from the organic community, adopted federal uniform National Organic Program (NOP) Standards for organic production in 2002.

There are several considerations in the argument for transitioning to organic agriculture. From an environmental standpoint, organic agriculture builds life in the soil while avoiding the use of toxic chemicals that can accumulate in soil, water, food and people. Non-organic farming relies on dwindling fossil fuel resources, while organic farmers build their own fertility into their systems, which improve over time and do not rely on outside inputs.

From an economic point of view, organic farming has been one of the fastest-growing sectors of agriculture for more than two decades-by 20 to 24 percent annually since 1990-and allows farmers to reap up to three times the profit margins of non-organically raised meat and produce.

According to the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and farmer interviews, obstacles to adoption by farmers include high managerial costs and risks of shifting to a new way of farming, limited awareness of organic farming systems, lack of marketing and infrastructure and inability to capture marketing economies and the fear of additional paperwork. By breaking the process into manageable steps, the transition from non-organic to organic management can be both profitable and rewarding.

Organic agriculture considers the farm as a complete, fully integrated and dynamic ecosystem-which includes you-with the ultimate goal being to minimize or eliminate costly outside inputs. While some fertilizers-and even some naturally occurring pesticides and herbicides-may be allowable in some instances in organic production, it's much cheaper to build fertility as well as pest and disease resistance into the system.   


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