The number of organic food producers is growing both domestically and globally: The USDA has announced there are 19,474 organic operations in the U.S., with a total of 27,814 organic operations throughout the world.
The agency said organic operations have increased by 5 percent in the last year, and since 2002 organic food producers have grown by a whopping 250 percent.
"As demand for organic products continues to soar, more and more producers are entering the organic market," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement. "USDA tools and resources have created opportunities for organic farmers and more options for organic consumers. Growing demand for organic goods can be especially helpful to smaller family operations. The more diverse type of operations and the more growing market sectors we have in American agriculture, the better off our country's rural economy will be."
Interest in organic food is growing as Americans become more concerned with their health, as well as the use of unnecessary food additives, chemicals, and pesticides in conventional food. The segments of the market that have shown the most growth include fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and beverages.
The U.S. Organic Food Market Outlook 2020 found the market will increase by another 10 percent in the next five years. This is great for farmers, not only because organic foods are healthier, but because they demand a higher pricetag.
As interest in organic production grows, so too will USDA funding to support the increase. The Farm Bill will invest $100 million into organic agricultural research, $100 million into helping organic farmers and ranchers get started, and $5 million into organic production initiatives.
The USDA has focused additional funding on helping new operations with the cost of certification while improving crop insurance for organic producers. The agency is also working to strengthen enforcement of organic regulations, which is increasingly important with farmers in over 100 countries producing food for the U.S. organic market.
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