March 15, 2007
No one who visits Texas’ wonderful farmers markets, or who’s shopped at the palacial Whole Foods Market flagship store in Austin, has any doubt that organic food is a big part of the economy and getting bigger. By the same token, anything that grows our organic food industry is economic development.
Senate Bill 866, which became law through a companion bill filed in the state House, recognizes the importance of this industry by creating an Organic Industry Advisory Board at the Texas Department of Agriculture.
TDA has an accredited program to certify organic products. But before the bill passed, there was no program or activity to specifically monitor, promote, or expand the organic industry in Texas. In 2005, organic food sales hit $20 billion in the United States. Yet Texas is not in the top ten states in terms of organic production. Texas should expand its production of organic food, and an organic advisory board would be an excellent start.
The advisory board will consist of organic producers, retailers, distributors, processors, and other representatives. The bill charges the board to assess the state’s organic industry, recommend ways to promote and expand the industry, develop an education campaign about organic products, and provide input on rules affecting the industry.
The fact is, whether you eat it or not, organic food is good for you – if only because it’s good for Texas’ economy. We need to support these farmers, and creating the Organic Industry Advisory Board is just the first step in cultivating this industry.