FAQ: Demand for organic food products continues to increase, as I look at what's being offered in grocery stores today. What's happening with the number of organic farms in the U.S.? Are they also growing?
Answer: USDA last week announced that the organic industry continues to show remarkable growth domestically and globally, with 19,474 certified organic operations in the United States and a total of 27,814 certified organic operations around the world.
According to data released by the Agricultural Marketing Service's (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP), the number of domestic certified organic operations increased by more than 5% over the last year. Since the count began in 2002, the number of domestic organic operations has increased by over 250%. The certified operations list is available at apps.ams.usda.gov/nop.
Demand for organic products continues to climb
"As demand for organic products continues to soar, more and more producers are entering the organic market," notes USDA secretary Tom Vilsack. "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 farming operations. The more diverse type of farms and the more growing market sectors we have in American agriculture, the better off our country's rural economy will be."
He says USDA is committed to connecting organic farmers and businesses with resources to ensure the continued growth of the organic industry. Along with programs to support conservation, provide access to loans and grants, fund organic research and education, and integrated pest management, USDA administers organic certification cost share programs to offset the costs of organic certification for U.S. producers and handlers nationwide.
USDA is developing an Organic Integrity Database
Now, USDA is using funding from the 2014 Farm Bill to develop the Organic Integrity Database, a modernized certified organic operations database that will provide accurate information about all certified operations that is updated on a regular basis.
The modernized system will allow anyone to confirm organic certification status using the online tool, support market research and supply chain connections, allow international verification of operator status to streamline import and export certificates, and establish technology connections with certifiers to provide more accurate and timely data. The initial launch is planned for September 2015.
Additional information about USDA resources and support for the organic sector is available on USDA's Organics Resource page at usda.gov/organic.