USDA announces growth of U.S. organic industry

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced new figures today that show the organic industry continues to grow domestically and globally, with over 25,000 certified organic operations in more than 120 different countries around the world.

Through the Agricultural Marketing Service's National Organic Program, USDA has helped an additional 763 producers become certified organic in just 2013, an increase of 4.2 percent from the previous year. The industry today encompasses a record breaking 18,513 certified organic farms and businesses in the United States alone, representing a 245 percent increase since 2002. 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. With retail sales valued at $35 billion last year, the organic industry represents a tremendous economic opportunity for farmers, ranchers and rural communities," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "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."

USDA has 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. During this Administration, USDA has signed three major trade agreements on organic products, first with Canada and then with the European Union and Japan. Our trading partners are eager to establish organic equivalency arrangements with the U.S. because they recognize the strength of the National Organic Program and the value of the USDA organic label.

USDA is also helping organic stakeholders access programs that support conservation, provide access to loans and grants, fund organic research and education, and mitigate pest emergencies. Funds are currently 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 program also funds research projects to enhance the ability of organic producers and processors to grow and market their products. Additional information is available online, and request for proposals are due by May 8, 2014.

Additionally, the recently-signed 2014 Farm Bill 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" programs, 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

Additional information about USDA resources and support for the organic sector is available on the USDA Organics Resource page.

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March, 22, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Shameful for taxpayer money to be wasted reinventing the wooden agricultural wheel as a sop to elitist yuppie fools. Organic foods are not discernibly different from ordinary foods in nutrition, safety or net environmental impact. Only popular myths linger, claiming advantage of organics. The only tangible difference is price. A market niche exists among trendy fools who like to be seen paying too much for stuff. It makes them feel smart and important, gets them strutting around clucking and crowing. Whatever makes their boats float but we don't need to be wasting tax dollars on this miniscule segment of the American economy. Of course growth appears huge - it takes practically nothing to double anything that is infinitesimally small to begin with. Imagine adding under 800 producers and achieving over 4% increase. The article conveniently forgets to mention how many ordinary producers there are -- tens of thousands. Tax and spend. Big government assures big waste.

March, 23, 2014 at 12:48 PM

If you buy processed food, opt for products bearing the USDA 100% Organic label, as organics do not permit GMOs. You can also print out and use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology. Share it with your friends and family, and post it to your social networks. Alternatively, download their free iPhone application, available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications. For more in-depth information, I highly recommend reading the following two books, authored by Jeffrey Smith, the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology: Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods. For timely updates, join the Non-GMO Project on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter. Please, do your homework. Together, we have the power to stop the chemical technology industry from destroying our food supply, the future of our children, and the earth as a whole. All we need is about five percent of American shoppers to simply stop buying genetically engineered foods, and the food industry would have to reconsider their source of ingredients—regardless of whether the products bear an actual GMO label or not.

Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  March, 24, 2014 at 10:32 PM

Organic is only organic until organic farmers run into a problem that they can't solve. Then they get special dispesantion for chemicals. How about these two: (11) Streptomycin, for fire blight control in apples and pears only until October 21, 2014. (12) Tetracycline, for fire blight control in apples and pears only until October 21, 2014. Really, antibiotics are okay on ogranic food? How about copper sulfate? How organic is that? Oh yeah, you can also treat livestock with a lot of synthetics, like this one: (22) Tolazoline (CAS #-59-98-3)—federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the lawful written or oral order of a licensed veterinarian, in full compliance with the AMDUCA and 21 CFR part 530 of the Food and Drug Administration regulations. Also, for use under 7 CFR part 205, the NOP requires: (i) Use by or on the lawful written order of a licensed veterinarian; (ii) Use only to reverse the effects of sedation and analgesia caused by Xylazine; and (iii) A meat withdrawal period of at least 8 days after administering to livestock intended for slaughter; and a milk discard period of at least 4 days after administering to dairy animals. So, even when you pay all that extra money for organic, you probably aren't really getting organic. When you buy a food produced with gmo technology, at least you are getting something that was produced by combining parts of two plants. When you buy organic, you are probably getting something that was grown and treated with inorgainc substances. NOP is kind of a sham. You can read the full list of permitted synthetics and not permit organics at this url:


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