Organic Federation Australia hoping Obama interest will drive sales

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 26th March 2009

Barack Obama, President of the USA, and his wife, Michelle, are showing strong support for organic production, according to Andre Leu, Chair of the Organic Federation Australia, which could provide a boost to the sector in the years ahead.

Michelle Obama has already started planting an organic vegetable garden in the White House lawn, with produce from the organic garden to be used for the first family’s meals and at White House formal dinners.

The First Lady believes the most important role of the 1,100 square foot plot will be the education of children about healthy, locally-grown organic fruits and vegetables. “My hope is that through children, they will begin to educate their families and that will, in turn, begin to educate our communities,” she said.

Hope for Presidential support of the organic industry was further strengthened when President Obama nominated an organic expert, Kathleen Merrigan, as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, the number two post in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Mr Leu believes change is afoot in the US, which should have a flow-on effect around the world.”This is part of the change that is occurring in the USA to ensure that agriculture is more environmentally and economically sustainable,” he suggested. “Organic agriculture techniques offer enormous benefits to all of farming with reduced pesticide and synthetic fertiliser use, better water use efficiency, lower greenhouse gas emissions, soil carbon sequestration and higher levels of biodiversity.”

The organic market had been widely expected to take a hit during the downturn, although there have been signs that it is holding up quite well. Growth rates have fallen in some organic sectors but the OFA recently reported that sales of basic organic products, such as fruit, vegetables and dairy products, had been robust, as many consumers choose to cutback on eating out.