American organic farmers and producers are at the forefront of innovation and entrepreneurship. Organic production contributes to building a stronger rural America by creating economic opportunities for farms and businesses of all sizes. In the U.S. alone, there are now 18,513 certified USDA organic operations, representing nearly a 245 percent increase since 2002. And there are over 25,000 certified organic operations in more than 120 different countries around the world.
Each year, the National Organic Program (NOP), part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, publishes the official list of certified operations. Through this online tool, you can search to see whether an operator is certified, find certified farms and operators in a particular state, or get a list of certified operators that produce a specific product. The data listed in the database is also available for download in Excel format going back to 2010.
The newly released 2013 data shows that the largest number of U.S. certified organic operations remain on the west coast, in New England, and in the upper Midwest. The data also shows an increased rate of domestic growth of about 4 percent throughout U.S. regions, resuming previous trends.
Internationally, there appears to be a decrease in the number of operations in areas with equivalency agreements, because operations in those countries no longer need dual certification. By minimizing duplication of certifications, equivalence agreements can provide great cost-saving for even the smallest of producers.
The database increases the transparency and integrity of the organic system, allowing consumers and stakeholders to search for information pertaining to organic certification, and increases the NOP’s oversight ability of accredited certifiers. It provides a way to identify and connect organic stakeholders across the supply chain.
Through the NOP, USDA has helped farmers and businesses create an industry that has grown to $35 billion annually in U.S. retail sales. USDA has a number of new and expanded efforts to connect organic farmers and businesses with resources that will ensure the continued growth of the organic industry domestically and abroad. We help organic stakeholders access programs that support conservation, provide access to loans and grants, fund organic research and education, and mitigate pest emergencies.
The new Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill) includes provisions that will make a big difference to the organic community, including additional funding to assist organic producers and handlers with the cost of organic certification, and funding to improve the NOP’s certified operations database and technology systems. Greater Federal support could mean even more organic farms and production in the U.S. to meet continued growth in consumer demand. Additional information about USDA resources and support for the organic sector is available on the USDA Organics Resource page.
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The increase in operations is modest compared to the price increase people are willing to pay for products with Organic Certification labels.
I think consumers are a strange indicator.