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Organic farmers seek support from Oregon legislators

Organic farmers want the Legislature to formalize a state Organic Advisory Council, and to fund four full-time positions to help farmers transition to organic practices.

From left, Steve Pierson, Sara Pierson and Susan Pierson, of Sar-Ben Farms in St. Paul, Ore., met with legislators and spoke during a reception Feb. 6 promoting organic agriculture at the Oregon State Capitol.Organic farmers gathered Wednesday at the Oregon State Capitol to meet with legislators and push for support of an industry that annually generates $350 million in farm gate sales.

They asked the Legislature to formalize a state Organic Advisory Council, and set aside money in the budget for four full-time positions dedicated to helping farmers transition to organic practices and certifying organic farms.

Organic Valley, the nation's largest organic farm cooperative, hosted the event, which included a reception featuring remarks from Gov. Kate Brown.

Organic producers also spent time meeting with lawmakers, highlighting their businesses and advocating for a greater voice in policy decisions. The Organic Advisory Council would be made up of farmers, researchers, retailers and distributors that would meet quarterly and provide input on proposals affecting the industry.

"I am very excited about this sector in Oregon's agricultural economy," Brown said. "We know it is a very valuable component of the agricultural sector."

Oregon, with 864 organic businesses, ranks ninth in the nation for organic production. Overall, organics represent 7.7 percent of Oregon's $4.5 billion agriculture industry.