A new report released by the Organic Trade Association today shows a positive link between organic agriculture and economic health on the local level. This groundbreaking news follows the release of information showing that organic farming is on the rise, with more than 20,000 organic farms in the U.S. alone.
The new White House report released by OTA, “U.S. Organic Hotspots and their Benefit to Local Economies,” discusses three research papers investigating 225 identified “organic hotspots” throughout the U.S. The report shows that counties with high levels of organic agricultural activity boost the local economy, increasing median household incomes by an average of $2,000. General agricultural activity did not have nearly the same benefits.
“We know that organic agriculture benefits our health and our environment,” Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of OTA, said in a statement. “This significant research shows organic can also benefit our livelihoods and help secure our financial future.”
These organic hotspots can also reduce poverty levels by an average of 1.3 percentage points; comparable or even more successful, in many cases, than governmental anti-poverty programs. The researchers highlight the importance of continued development of organic agriculture throughout the country to continue to boost local economies.
“(The study’s) important findings show that organic contributes to the economic health of local economies,” says study preparer Dr. Edward Jaenicke, Penn State Agricultural Economist. “The growing market interest in organic agriculture can be leveraged into effective policy for economic development.”
The paper includes several recommendations for the continued development of organic agriculture, including promoting organic agriculture at the federal, state, and local level, focusing on rural development and organic transition, and targeting specific areas for development.
“Organic agriculture can be used as an effective economic development tool, especially in our rural areas,” said Batcha. “The findings of this research show organic certifiers and the transfer of knowledge and information play a critical role in developing organic. And it provides policymakers with an economic and sound reason to support organic agriculture and to create more economy-stimulating organic hotspots throughout the country.”
Plowed field image via Shutterstock