Washington, DC - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released a statement on the Organic Trade Association's report that the organic sector posted its largest-ever dollar gain in 2015, with total organic product sales growing by $4.2 billion, reaching $43.3 billion.
"America's organic industry is booming, creating important opportunities for farmers and ranchers and adding to the vibrancy of rural America. Under the Obama Administration, we've made transformative investments to help the organic sector thrive by making certification more attainable, providing more support for organic operations, and expanding international markets. As consumer demand continues to grow, USDA is here to support producers and help them access the hunger for American-grown organic products."
To support producers and growth of the organic sector, we've:
- Invested nearly $261 million over the past seven years in research to improve the productivity and success of organic agriculture, including seed-breeding.
- Certified more than 21,900 organic operations to date — nearly a 300 percent increase since 2002. Worldwide, the USDA organic seal has become a leading global standard, with more than 31,000 certified organic operations in more than 120 countries.
- Increased the number of value-added producer grants awarded to local food projects by nearly 500 percent since 2009.
- Established tools to help organic producers find technical and financial assistance to help them grow. For instance, our site, www.usda.gov/organic, is a one-stop-shop for operators and we've also developed a handbook that matches conservation practices to USDA's organic regulatory requirements.
- Provided more than 6,800 farms with $115 million in assistance to help producers implement conservation practices on organic farms, and expanded field-level capacity to implement voluntary conservation practices on organic acres through a public-private partnership.
- Created new crop insurance options to meet the unique needs of organic operations.
- In 2011, USDA began offering crop insurance for organic producers to reflect market prices — one of most important steps we've taken to provide effective insurance coverage for organic crops and better risk management tools for organic producers.
- Beginning with the 2014 crop year, we made new crop-insurance pricing options available to organic and transitioning producers, including those who grew crops under guaranteed contracts. This contract price option allows organic producers who receive a contract price for their crop to get a crop insurance guarantee that is more reflective of the actual value of their crop.
- And in 2016, the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection insurance policy became available to producers. This policy allows producers to insure between 50 to 85 percent of their whole farm revenue.
- Established equivalency arrangements with Canada, the European Union, Japan, Korea and Switzerland, allowing U.S. organic producers to reach consumers around the world. As a result, American organic producers now have streamlined access to international organic markets valued at over $35 billion, and organic products certified in one country can now be sold as organic in other respective markets, reducing the cost of duplicative certifications, fees and inspections.
- Made market and pricing information available for approximately 250 organic products free of charge through USDA's Market News.
- Made $11.5 million in assistance available to organic operations for certification costs in 2015.