Organic farming is on the rise, according to new information released by the Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Organic Program (NOP). Today, there are 21,781 certified organic operations in the U.S. alone, and a total of 31,160 certified organic operations worldwide. The total retail market for organic products is valued at over $39 billion in the U.S., and $75 billion internationally.
The NOP reports that between 2014 and 2015, domestic certified organic operations increased by nearly 12 percent, the highest growth rate in the organic industry since 2008. It also continues with a recent trend in the growth of the organic market: since the NOP began creating these reports in 2002, organic operations have increased by almost 300 percent.
"Organic food is one of the fastest growing segments of American agriculture," agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. "As consumer demand for organic products continues to grow, the USDA organic seal has become a leading global standard."
However, even with this growth, organic farms only make up 1.05 percent of total U.S. farms. The USDA has spearheaded several projects to help growth continue and assist individual farmers in completing the necessary steps for certification.
In 2015, the USDA made $11.5 million in funding available to help farmers with the costs of organic certification. The “Sound and Sensible” initiative, launched in November 2015, streamlined the certification process, making it more accessible to farmers, including members of Mennonite and Spanish-speaking communities. The USDA has also made information for about 250 organic products available free of charge to help organic producers grow and diversify their offerings.
The new data is available as part of the recently launched USDA Organic Integrity Database, a new system for tracking certified organic operations. The database replaces the earlier USDA system of publishing an organic list once a year, allowing interested parties to stay abreast of the evolution of the organic market in real time.
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