May 19, 2016
Secretary Vilsack releases statement on organic sector report
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has released a statement on the Organic Trade Association’s report that the organic sector posted its largest-ever dollar gain in 2015. Total organic product sales grew by $4.2 billion, reaching $43.3 billion.
According to Secretary Vilascak, USDA has:
- 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.