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Ruth Buck, Minnesota organic farmer.

Spreading organic's story: Minn. dairy farmer visits D.C.

When Ruth Buck visited Washington, D.C., to promote the organic industry four or five years ago, many people there didn't know what she was talking about.

"But things have really changed. Now, just about everyone there has positive thoughts about it (organic), and it's grown to a point where people are very in tune to it," said Buck, who operates an organic dairy farm near Goodhue, Minn., with her husband, Dennis, and their six children.

Ruth Buck was in the nation's capital Feb.5-6 during the Organic Trade Association's group visit with new and incumbent members of Congress. During the visit, farmers from 11 states helped the freshmen lawmakers learn more about organic and also discussed implementation of organic provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill, the centerpiece of U.S. food and agricultural policy.

The Organic Trade Association is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. It represents more than 9,500 organic businesses across 50 states; its members include farmers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others.

Buck said she always welcomes the opportunity to spread organic's story.

"I I love to talk about our farm and tell our farm story, and to talk about organic farming and put a face on organic farming," she said.

"I also think it's neat to visit Washington and see how our lawmakers work," she said. "They have so many meetings to go to. Meeting to meeting to meeting. It's fun to see their personalities and connect with them."

The organic group was very busy itself, visiting 15 officials over the two days, Buck said.

Some of the visits were with lawmakers who voted for the 2018 Farm Bill, "which was pretty good for organic. So we made sure to thank them (legislators who voted for it)," she said.

The Buck dairy farm, which now milks about 120 cows, was certified organic in 2003. The Bucks began transitioning to organic after buying the farm in 1999 from Dennis' mother, Ruth Buck said.

Three of the six children seem interested in joining the farm full-time after they are finished with school. If so, they would be the fourth generation on the family farm, giving her even more incentive to work to enhance the organic industry, Buck said.

Her most recent trip to Washington, despite some travel problems, was time well spent, she said.

"I left (Minnesota) in an ice storm and came back in an ice storm. The travel part was no fun. But the experience in Washington was so worthwhile. It's so completely different from our everyday life," she said.