The Struggles of Organic Farmers

What is Really in Your Food?

What would you think if you knew that every time you bit into a fruit or vegetable you were getting a mouthful of pesticides? Well when you eat the big name products and the non-organic products that is what is happening. By eating organic fruits and vegetables the consumer is taking in all the vitamins and proteins that fruits offer. Most people do not think this way so they just buy what is available at the supermarket, however when customers buy the non-organic fruits and vegetables a local organic farmer is being put out of a job. Without local organic farmers we have no organic foods, and without organic foods we are forced to eat foods that are full with pesticides that can harm us.

 “We did not take on this farm with star struck eyes but with the realization that failure was more likely then success” Miolea Organic Farm. Small organic farmers all over America have this thought in the back of their mind everyday when they go to work. Why is this? Is it because their fruits and vegetables are just not as good as big industrial farming companies? Or is it because consumers like you and me simply decided to buy the big name products.

Positives and Negatives of Organic Fruits and Vegetables

The argument of why people in this country do not eat much organic food is that prices for organic foods are too high.Foods with the organic certification may have a little higher price, but the quality of the food is no comparison. Organic foods have a higher nutritional content, are better for the ecosystem, and are even better for the community. With people not wanting to buy these organic crops, local farmers are not being able to pay for their farms.

Farmers years ago would get a good profit from their foods, but since the demand for organic foods has been dropping and the demand for genetically modified foods have been increasing, farmers are losing money. Organic farmers cannot continue to use the same methods they use now and expect to be in the food market.

Although genetically modified foods are not as good for you as organic foods, they do have a few advantages. Genetically modified foods are produced faster then organic foods so they are more convenient for the customer. Genetically modified foods as sprayed with special chemicals or pesticides that keep the food in a ready to eat state longer. The pesticides keep the bugs off and make them weather resistant. All these positives for the genetically modified foods are what are keeping the industrial farmers ahead of the organic farmers.

How much Organic Land is still Left?

“Currently just 14,500 family farms produce organic foods ranging from fruits and vegetables to milk and meat” says Denise Ryan, a director with the Organic Farming Research Foundation in Santa Cruz, California. United States organic crop acreage accounted for less than 1 percent of total crop acreage in 2008 according to the Emerging Issues in the Organic Industry Research Service. With this statement true, organic farmers really do not stand a chance in the farming industry.

The Orange Groves in Florida

Citrus fruits in Florida are becoming a major concern for organic farmers. “Organic growers can spray some natural pesticide compounds but not the chemicals commonly used by conventional growers,” says Benny McLean, 69, the production manager for Uncle Matt’s Organic Inc., which owns and manages about 1,200 organic citrus acres in Florida.

Bruce Nearon has been selling organic orange juice since 1974. Nearon was once the organic farmer that was growing the oranges, but farm prices made him shut down his farm and start selling the juice. Nearon agreed farm prices for organic oranges have not kept pace with the rising farm prices for conventionally grown Florida oranges. “The cost of production (caretaking) is way too high”  “Additionally the (farm) price doesn’t make up for it.” Farmers are having problems making money especially when seventy-five percent of allsmall farms in the nation, bring in fewer than ten-thousand dollars a year.

These citrus crops in Florida have fallen short of the estimated mark every year.  As a result of these record low farming seasons, Florida orange farmers, have pushed farm prices to near-record levels in the last two seasons, and economistspredict high farm prices again this coming up season.

Outside Competition for Organic Farmers

Organic farmers are not only fighting competition battles here in the United States, but also in other parts of the world.  Countries such as Canada, Italy, Turkey, China, and Mexico are importing foods to the United States, which makes the job of a U.S. organic farmer that much harder.

A local organic farmer at the Miolea Organic Farm in Maryland put this quote in his blog: “BUY LOCAL: Do your family justice, find a local farm, ask questions and then support it if it feels right.  If you do not get straight answers, it is probably because they are hucksters not growers.”he hopes that this will help people decide to choose local organic farming over industrial farming, and also help his business.

Wanli, Yang. “Organic food, a way out. . http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2011-10/19/content_13929105.htm, 19 October 2011. Web. 3 November 2011.

Bouffard, Kevin. “Tough time for organic growers.” NYT Regional Media Group. www.newschief.com/.webloc, 19 October 2011. Web. 3 November 2011.

Brian. “Losing Proposition.” Miolea Organic Farm.www.localharvest.org/.webloc, 16 August 2011. Web. 3 November 2011.

-Brandon Tyler

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