USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that the agency would begin focusing more attention on the growth of the organic food industry, reports Food Safety News.
At a recent Organic Trade Association policy conference in Washington D.C., Vilsack said he views the organic certification as it’s own, vital commodity. According to Food Safety News, “He wants to increase coverage options for organic producers under the federal crop insurance program provided by USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) and promised to remove a 5 percent organic rate surcharge on future crop insurance policies, beginning in 2014.”
Calling for a 25 percent increase in certified organic business by 2015 (from a 2010 USDA plan) Vilsack said, “Organic agriculture is one of the fastest growing segments of American agriculture and helps farmers receive a higher price for their product as they strive to meet growing consumer demand,” adding, “These new options will extend the safety net provided by crop insurance and provide fair and flexible solutions to organic producers. Coupled with the new guidance for agencies to support this growing sector, USDA recognizes that organics are gaining market share and is helping boost this emerging segment.”
The USDA will be giving organic certifying agencies new directives aimed to ” take into account concerning the documentation and inspection required for organic certification for eligibility for the department’s programs and policies,” reports Food Safety News.
According to the USDA’s National Organic Program, 17,000 business are certified organic accounting for an estimated $35 billion in annual retail sales. It’s the fourth largest industry in U.S. food and feed crop production.
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