Stanley Johnson, vice-provost for Extension at Iowa State University, welcomed the crowd of 295 registrants at the Fourth Annual Iowa Organic Conference in the Scheman Building on Monday, November 1, 2004, to the home of the "best organic research and extension program in the United States," according to Rodale Press.
Iowa ranks fifth in the nation in organic production, which is remarkable given the small population and isolation of the state from the largest organic markets--the East and West coasts. The United States is now the largest market for organic foods and beverages in the world, equaling $11 billion in 2003, and forecasted to reach $20 billion by 2005. This growth corresponds to a 20 percent annual growth rate, compared to a declining rate for conventional agriculture. The adoption of the National Organic Program by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the application of the USDA seal on packaged organic products, effective October 2002, has helped propel this interest.
With 17 presentations and 53 exhibits, conference organizer, Kathleen Delate, associate professor in agronomy and horticulture at Iowa State, felt that all sectors of the organic marketplace were served--from organic flax producers to organic grape and wine entrepreneurs.
"The growth of organics will be driven by new users," said Delate. "Our job at Iowa State is to educate producers on the best methods to fulfill that need."
More information about the Organic Agriculture Program  at Iowa State University is available on the web.
This article originally appeared on page 133 of the IC-492(22) -- November 15, 2004 issue.