University of Florida to Offer Organic Farming Major

Hot on the heels (well, relatively) of the Washington State University's announcement of its new organic agriculture major, papers around the Sunshine State announced today that the University of Florida is following suit with its own program in organic farming:

"The organic-food industry is maturing, and I think you see that in lot of ways," said Mickie Swisher, co-director of UF's Center for Organic Agriculture.

The development of national organic standards in 2002 made the UF major possible, said Danielle Treadwell, an assistant horticulture professor teaching the crop production course. Now students can be taught standards that can be applied anywhere in the country, she said.

This is good news not only because more trained organic farmers will be going back to the land (or to work for major agribusinesses) following graduation, but also because UF faculty will be conducting more research on organic farming methods and practices. While these professors before might have studied use of chemical pesticides and herbicides to increase crop yield, or more "efficient" means of raising livestock, at least one researcher already plans to undertake a project on organic weed control. Others are certain to follow suit as the University dedicates more land to organic certification at its research farm in Citra. Next year's orange juice is sure to taste just a little sweeter... ::Lakeland, Florida's The Ledger

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