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America’s Organic Food Shortage

With Jane  Clayson in for Tom Ashbrook.

Farmers across the country are struggling to keep up with the high demand for organic food. Will we have to go abroad to feed our appetite ?

In this Feb. 2, 2012 photo, a cow is seen in a field at Raindance Farm in Westville, N.Y. Even as more consumers are willing to pay premium prices for organic milk, supermarkets are having trouble keeping it on the shelves as high feed and fuel prices have left some organic dairy farmers simply unable to keep up with demand. (AP)

In this Feb. 2, 2012 photo, a cow is seen in a field at Raindance Farm in Westville, N.Y. Even as more consumers are willing to pay premium prices for organic milk, supermarkets are having trouble keeping it on the shelves as high feed and fuel prices have left some organic dairy farmers simply unable to keep up with demand. (AP)

More than 80% of American families are choosing organic options in the grocery aisle – and at the farmer’s market. To avoid pesticides – antibiotics –and GMOs.

But our national appetite for organic – might just be more than our domestic farmers can supply. Farmers are turning to China and India to find the organic grain to feed their animals. And it’s a lot of money. As much as $100 million this year. It’s not an encouraging scene for an organic farmer.

This hour, On Point: satisfying the American appetite for organic.

Guests

Mark Peters, reporter for the Wall Street Journal covering the Midwest and Great Plains. His recent article is “A Gap in the Organic Food Chain.” (@mrmmpeters)

Lynn Clarkson, president of Clarkson Grain company, which processes organic grains.

Meg Moynihan Stuedemann, certified organic dairy farmer at Derrydale Farm in Belle Plaine, Minnesota. Vice chair of the Organic Farming Research Foundation.

Gary Hirshberg, chairman and co-founder of Stonyfield Farms, the world’s leading organic yogurt producer. (@gary_hirshberg)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: A Gap in the Organic Food Chain — “The Farm Belt isn’t going organic fast enough to keep up with surging consumer demand, forcing makers of organic foods from milk to deli meats to look abroad for key commodities while struggling to recruit skeptical farmers at home. The U.S. is the world’s largest producer and exporter of corn and soybeans, but organic supplies, which are used largely as animal feed for production of organic meat and dairy, are hard to come by here. Federal data show organic food producers are turning to China and India for organic soybeans, as total U.S. imports of those kinds of beans doubled last year and could surpass $100 million in value this year.”

CBS News: Demand for organic foods boosts industry’s sway — “The organic food industry is gaining clout on Capitol Hill, prompted by rising consumer demand and its entry into traditional farm states. But that isn’t going over well with everyone in Congress. Tensions between conventional and organic agriculture boiled over this week during a late-night House Agriculture Committee debate on a sweeping farm bill that has for decades propped up traditional crops and largely ignored organics.”

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