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Monday, April 9, 2012 - 12:30pm

Fewer Registered Ga. Organic Farms

Georgia is not seeing a big jump in production of organic products and crops, despite a national organic boom.

New data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows a spike last year of 500 more operations producing organic products around the country.

In the same time, the number of Georgia producers registered with the state dropped sharply: 53 growers registered 2,909 organic acres in 2010; 36 growers registered 1,282 acres in 2011. Officials said that’s because the state registration is required but not enforced and many companies overlook it.

Mike Evans with the Georgia Department of Agriculture said Georgians are buying organic, however.

“One of the blueberry packers told me how many acres were organic -- because it’s a separate part of their warehouse -- and it was successful,” Evans said. “And he said, ‘yeah, if we could increase our acreage, we would increase that.’”

Evans said organic farming can be more challenging in Georgia.

“We had a grower [who] had a few issues earlier this year trying to fight insects and diseases. When you’re an organic producer, there are some products you can use, but you’re a little bit more limited than conventional production agriculture.”

Still, Evans said he gets several calls a week about organic production.

The USDA lists 141 organic producers in Georgia. That includes traditional farm crops as well as companies producing everything from chicken to edible oils and coffee.