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New report details benefits of expanding organic agriculture, policy opportunities

Farmer in a garden with the sun rising in the background.
October 27, 2022

In preparation for the upcoming 2023 Farm Bill, the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University has co-authored a new report with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR) to help guide U.S. policymakers on the benefits and value of organic agriculture practices.

“Grow Organic: The Climate, Health and Economic Case for Expanding Organic Agriculture” was published on Oct. 27 and details the potential of organic agriculture in addressing climate change, health crises and economical struggle. Some of the topics discussed in the report include organic agriculture’s ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect human health and support economic resilience. 

“Expanding organic agriculture is an investment in our future, one that could ultimately produce significant returns,” said report co-author Kathleen Merrigan, executive director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at ASU. “Today’s conventional system contains immense hidden costs subsidized by our tax dollars that we can no longer afford.”  

The “Grow Organic” report features stories from over a dozen organic farmers and ranchers across the country to demonstrate their recommendations in practice

Kanoa Dinwoodie of Feral Heart Farm is a Filipino and Chinese farmer who seeks to make organically grown culturally appropriate foods more accessible to communities of color. Benina Montes of the Burroughs Family Farm was inspired to transition her entire farming operation to organic following her pregnancy with her first child — she didn’t want to risk the health of her child by mixing chemicals for her conventional almond orchards.  

“When we account for the true costs of our current farming systems, including health, environmental, social and economic impacts, the value of organic farming is undeniable,” Merrigan said. “This report lays out where we need to go.”

Top photo courtesy Shutterstock

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