Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Organic agricultural production in the United States: An old wheel being reinvented

Authors
item Russo, Vincent
item Webber, Charles

Submitted to: The Americas Journal of Plant Science and Biotechnology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 22, 2007
Publication Date: June 1, 2007
Citation: Russo, V.M., Webber III, C.L. 2007. Organic agricultural production in the United States: An old wheel being reinvented. The Americas Journal of Plant Science and Biotechnology. 1(1):29-35.

Interpretive Summary: Use of organic methods began losing favor in American agriculture in the early 20th century. In the US organic agriculture is regulated, and materials and methods that can be used or prohibited, are described. Consumer perceptions about what has been termed conventional agriculture, which employs synthetic materials, have been changing with a greater acceptance of agriculture employing organic methods. Organic production is increasing in the US, but is faced with the same problems as conventional agriculture, and in addition with those that are specific to organic production. Opportunities are present for organic producers in that the demand has increased, and there is room for additional producers who use organic methods. Future research to deal with present and emerging problems includes finding answers about how to: control pests, pathogens, and especially weeds; development of a better understanding of the interaction of soil, water, microorganisms, plants and nutrients; and reduce costs of organic production. It will be necessary to develop partnerships between producers, researchers and marketers to obtain the desired goals.

Technical Abstract: Organic production is not a new concept that has been developed in the United States during the last part of the 20th century as an alternative to conventional agriculture. It can better be described as a resurgence of old ideas that have been combined with modern technology. The problems faced by practitioners of organic agriculture are the same as those faced by practitioners of conventional agriculture, i.e., establishment, maintenance, and harvesting of a crop or animal enterprise. What is different between the systems is the methodology by which the goal is attained. The road to the present state of organic agriculture in the US began before European colonization; the concept was influenced by the Industrial Revolution, and organic agriculture was almost dismissed by changes in demographics and the upsurge of technology that was applied to agriculture after World War 2. Concerns about the effects of conventional agriculture was having on the environment, and the perception that organic food is healthier, has increased demand for organic products. The opportunities for expansion of organic production are present, but the demand is outstripping supply. The future for research includes finding answers about how to: control pests, pathogens, and especially weeds; development of a better understanding of the interaction of soil, water, microorganisms, plants and nutrients; and reduce costs of organic production. Participants in these endeavors include the organic farmer and state and federal research and regulatory organizations.

Last Modified: 8/21/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page