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January 5, 2016

Murphy seeks action on organic agriculture

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to act on expanding opportunities for organic agriculture. His push comes in the wake of meeting with state farmers and organic agriculture researchers.

Murphy said in a letter to USDA Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack that in spite of growing demand by consumers, the department only spends 1 percent of its main federal agriculture research grants —the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative and the Specialty Crop Research Initiative—on organic agriculture research.

In his letter, Murphy said Organic Trade Association reported sales in organic products nationally increased 11.5 percent in 2014 from the previous year. However, he added, investment in organic projects in hallmark agriculture research programs is not keeping pace with demand.

All commercial farmers could benefit from increased organic agricultural research, Murphy added. Research on using crop rotations to break pest cycles or non-herbicide methods of weed control, even if the research is targeted to organic systems, would be beneficial, he said.

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