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    Organic Acreage Grows, but More Needed, Says OTA

    GREENFIELD, Mass. - More than one million new acres were devoted to organic agriculture production in 2005, according to statistics released on Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and that's "great news," according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA) here. However, the trade group said the government still needs to do more to encourage farmers to switch to organic production.

    GREENFIELD, Mass. - More than one million new acres were devoted to organic agriculture production in 2005, according to statistics released on Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and that's "great news," according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA) here. However, the trade group said the government still needs to do more to encourage farmers to switch to organic production.

    "Consumers are demanding more and more organic products for their families, and farmers are working to meet that demand," said Caren Wilcox, executive director of OTA. However, USDA's data also show that the number of certified organic operations increased just slightly in 2005, and that farmers face significant hurdles in making the transition from conventional to organic production.

    "Given the strong consumer desire for organic products, USDA should do more to invest in organic agriculture and to remove the hurdles currently facing farmers who want to make the transition. Organic farmers need access to the same resources USDA provides to conventional farmers-research, market data, risk management tools, and import/export information," Wilcox said.

    "That is why OTA is asking Congress to make the critical investments needed in the upcoming Farm Bill to advance organic agriculture," she added.

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