Oregon organic crops in high demand

European Union consumers are building a market for organic hazelnuts, cherries.

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Consumers in the European Union are building a market for organic hazelnuts, cherries and other Oregon crops.

A report from the US Department of Agriculture urges American farmers to produce more organic crops for export, OregonLive.com reports.

The USDA recommends that organic producers seize on some of the trends Americans do best, like tapping into the EU’s growing appetite for sweet potatoes.

Some of the recommendations align with Oregon’s agriculture strengths: tree nuts, fresh pears and apples, grapes, strawberries and cherries. Organic grains for baking are also selling well. Oregon also produces a lot of organic processed products, which are primed to do well in the future in the EU.

The report also noted a demand for organic strawberries, coffee, carrots, tomato sauce, blueberries, peppers and cauliflower.

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In America, though, production of organic dairy is not meeting demand, the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune reports.

But even with its growing popularity, organic milk represents only about 5 percent of the total milk produced nationally in 2014, according to federal estimates. As far as prices, the retail cost of organic milk is about twice that of conventional milk. For example, in late March the national average price for a half gallon of milk was $1.76 for conventional milk and $3.44 for organic milk, according to the USDA.

What consumers get for the extra cost is milk that has been certified as organic and meets all federal regulations. That means it’s from cows that eat organic feed and that are not given hormones, antibiotics or other unapproved medication. It also means that the cows eat in a pasture for at least 120 days a year and do not feed on anything grown from genetically modified seeds or that has been sprayed with pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.