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WI Organic Expert: The Future is Bright

August 29, 2011

VIROQUA, Wis. - The recession that started in 2008 meant a couple of tough years for Wisconsin's organic dairy industry, with near-zero growth. However, growth rates are back in the double-digits now, according to Joe Pedretti, an organic education specialist with the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service.

"As consumers felt a little bit more confidence in the economy, then the buying of organic products came roaring back, and now we're looking at about the same 15- to 20-percent growth rates again."

Pedretti says much of the credit goes to the organic farmers and crop producers, who stuck with it through a tough time, and to the very committed consumers of organic products.

"When somebody makes a decision to purchase organic foods, instead of the many other choices that are out there in the market, they do it for a number of reasons. They've thought this through. There is a reason they're willing to put more money down to buy these products, and they don't go back on that decision easily."

Pedretti does not minimize the challenges organic farmers and crop growers face, but says stabilizing market prices will mean there's plenty of opportunity in the year ahead. He says the future for the organic industry is bright.

"The organic industry is growing in leaps and bounds again, and that means there's real opportunities for small to medium-sized family farms to take advantage of this growing market opportunity."

Pedretti says many people predicted the organic industry would fail during what he calls the "Great Recession" that started in 2008, but the rapid resurgence of the industry demonstrates its vitality and staying power.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI