As an organic farmer, I know how frustrating it can be to search the internet for information that might help my operation. It might be there somewhere but finding it takes precious time, especially if I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for. Now, USDA has solved part of that problem with a centralized web resource center on USDA.gov for all the programs, services, and data we have that support organic agriculture. Not only is this web resource center a “one-stop shop” for information about organics at USDA, but there is lots in store!
Organic operations (and those considering transitioning to organic) can:
- learn about improved organic crop and livestock insurance,
- view local and national organic commodity price reports and other economic data, and
- identify additional export markets for their products.
They can access credit and cost-sharing assistance through traditional farm loans, more flexible microloans, and conservation programs that reimburse farmers for implementing environmentally-friendly practices (hurry, applications close for the Conservation Stewardship Program on January 17th!).
Additionally, USDA supports many organizations that provide organic research and education. For example, land-grant universities use USDA funds to help farmers and ranchers across rural America manage pests, support their animal’s health, and provide other production and conservation assistance.
Through its Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), USDA enforces national standards for organic products and facilitates trade throughout the world. With over 17,000 certified organic businesses in the United States alone, the organic industry supports jobs and communities on a global scale. In fact, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) estimated that the organic food industry generated more than 500,000 American jobs in 2010 alone. OTA research calculates that for every $1 billion in retail sales of organic products, 21,000 more jobs are created.
Earlier this year, Secretary Vilsack issued Guidance on Organic Agriculture, Marketing and Industry instructing all USDA agencies to incorporate the needs of the organic sector into their programs and services, and asked AMS to lead this effort. This resource center for all things organic at USDA.gov is one way we are meeting those needs.
Organic agriculture is a strong contributor to USDA’s goals for rural economic development, and we are committed to supporting continued growth of the organic sector by removing obstacles for organic farmers and businesses. Learn about the benefits of organic certification and help determine if organic is an option for your farm or business by visiting our Organic Literacy Initiative.
As the organic sector continues to grow, so does USDA’s commitment to meeting the needs of organic operators. The new organic web resource center at USDA.gov reflects that commitment and the growing menu of services we provide.