Limited Agricultural Data
An additional issue is the dearth of
technical research on organic agricultural practices. Although agrochemical
companies have funded research at
universities for many years, there has
been little funding for research on organic agriculture.
Despite the lack of financial support
for organic agricultural research, a
number of universities now offer degree and certificate programs in organic agriculture. Also, with a dramatic
increase in organic research-related
funding provided in the 2008 Farm
Bill, there is reason for optimism. However, an increase in funding may not
be sufficient to compare with the work
funded by large chemical companies
and to overcome structural barriers
that exist to communicating up-to-date
technical information on organic to
those who need it.
Strengths: Supportive Organizations
Opportunities: New Farm Bill
Threats are defined as external conditions that could damage performance or
growth. While these things may be out of the organic industry’s control, it is wise
to be aware of these threats and take steps to minimize any possible negative effects. Interviewees mentioned threats ranging from global trade and supply issues
to competing eco-claims and orchestrated attacks from biotech companies.
With the rise of shoppers interested in buying “green,” it seems like new eco-labels, or other ethically driven labels, are popping up every day. As a result, consumers are suffering from an information and product choice overload. This
situation has the potential to result in “consumer shutdown,” whereby even consumers known to have a strong desire for and tolerance of information feel overwhelmed and lose interest in distinguishing between different products. In this
context, organic risks becoming just another label.
A similar type of threat can be seen in the competition between organic and
local products. The organic industry needs to work harder to both educate consumers about the unique benefits that purchasing organic products has to offer
and to communicate that organic and local are in many ways compatible in their
goals to promote a sustainable food system.
Strengths: Organic Legislation • Weaknesses: Consumer Confusion • Opportunities: Consumer Education
A more urgent concern is the gap between the domestic supply and demand
for organic goods. Demand continues to outpace supply, and many domestic sup-