Growth predicted in biologically integrated and organic farming
Sean L. Swezey, UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP)
Janet C. Broome, UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP)
California Agriculture 54(4):26-35.
California agriculture faces multiple environmental challenges, the result of a fast-growing population, the increased role of consumers in decision-making about the food system, a more restrictive regulatory climate and mounting evidence of agriculture's contribution to non-point-source water pollution. At the same time, innovative partnerships invclving growers, consumers, commodity boards, regulators and university researchers are exploring creative solutions to these challenges through biologically integrated and organic farming systems. Simultaneously, the agricultural biotechnology industry is experiencing phenomenal growth. The U.S. food industry's resistance to labeling products that contain transgenic ingredients is stimulating consumer interest in organic products, which prohibit transgenics. Based on these trends and the growth of organic acreage and product sales, we predict that alternative farming systems could comprise at least 20% and as much as 60% of all California cropland in production in 2025. Nonetheless, research investments into alternative biologically integrated and organic methods lags far behind organic product sales.
The authors thank R.L. Bugg and M.T. Stevenson for information on the BIFS program. They acknowledge funding for the BIFS program from U.S. EPA and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.