Organic Sector Continues to Grow

US - The organic sector in the US is continuing to grow domestically and globally, with more than 25,000 certified organic operations in more than 120 different countries around the world.
calendar icon 21 March 2014
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A total of 763 more producers have become certified organic in 2013, an increase of 4.2 per cent on the previous year, through the Agricultural Marketing Service's National Organic Program.

The industry today encompasses 18,513 certified organic farms and businesses in the United States, representing a 245 per cent increase since 2002 according to the USDA.

The 2013 list of certified USDA organic operations shows an increased rate of domestic growth within the industry, resuming previous trends.

"Consumer demand for organic products has grown exponentially over the past decade,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“With retail sales valued at $35 billion last year, the organic industry represents a tremendous economic opportunity for farmers, ranchers and rural communities.

"New support in the 2014 Farm Bill will enhance USDA's efforts to help producers and small business tap into this market and support organic agriculture as it continues to grow and thrive."

The USDA has announced a number of new and expanded efforts to connect organic farmers and businesses with resources that will ensure the continued growth of the organic industry domestically and abroad.

The USDA has signed three major trade agreements on organic products, first with Canada and then with the European Union and Japan during the current administration and the US claims that trading partners are eager to establish organic equivalency arrangements with the US because they recognise the strength of the National Organic Program and the value of the USDA organic label.

USDA is also helping those in the organic sector to access programmes that support conservation, provide access to loans and grants, fund organic research and education, and mitigate pest emergencies.

Funds are available for research projects under the National Institute of Food and Agriculture's Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative to solve critical organic agriculture issues, priorities, or problems.

The programme also funds research projects to enhance the ability of organic producers and processors to grow and market their products.
The 2014 Farm Bill, which was signed recently also includes provisions that are a greater support to the organic community, including:

• $20 million annually for dedicated organic research, agricultural extension programs, and education. The Cooperative Extension System is a nationwide, non-credit educational network. Every U.S. state and territory has a state office at its land-grant university and a network of local or regional offices staffed by experts that provide useful, practical, and research-based information.
• $5 million to fund data collection on organic agriculture that will give policymakers, organic farmers, and organic businesses data needed to make sound policy, business, and marketing decisions
• Expanded options for organic crop insurance to protect farmers
• Expanded exemptions for organic producers who are paying into commodity "check off" programmes, and authority for USDA to consider an application for the organic sector to establish its own check off
• Improved enforcement authority for the National Organic Program to conduct investigations
• $5 million for a technology upgrade of the National Organic Program to provide up-to-date information about certified organic operations across the supply chain
• $11.5 million annually for certification cost-share assistance, which reimburses the costs of annual certification for organic farmers and livestock producers by covering 75 percent of certification costs, up to $750 per year

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