With the economy on the rails and Americans tightening their wallets, some organic farmers are finding that going green is not as sustainable financially as it once was.
For the first time ever, the U.S. organic foods industry is expected to drop 1.1 percent (down to $5.07 billion) after strong annual gains of 12 to 23 percent annually since 2003. Particularly hard hit is the organic dairy industry -- with high feed costs and falling milk prices eroding profits.
Naturally, many farmers are finding that to stay in business, they're having to drop their organic certifications. According to the California Certified Organic Farmers group, almost 100 farms are in jeopardy of losing their certifications due to nonpayment fees. This is up drastically from the 20 or so per year that run into trouble.
Still, there's reason for some farmers to remain optimistic. Organic groups say the industry remains strong due to the fact that it's weathering the economic storm better than others. "In this depressed economy, when you're looking at bankruptcies and layoffs — we're just not seeing that in organics. Even though it's slowed down, there continues to be strong demand," Peggy Miars, executive director of CCOF, told the AP.
While I've personally reduced my purchases of organic snacks and boxed products, my preference for organic veggies is still high. According to the article, trends in consumption of organics seem to reflect a similar pattern. How about you? Have you stopped buying organics due to the economic downturn -- or is the food on your dinner table just as green as it was before?