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Posts tagged: National Organic Program

Sound and Sensible Initiative Projects Simplify Organic Certification

Sound and Sensible Infographic

The Sound and Sensible projects educate producers and provide them with the tools and information resources needed to streamline certification, inspections, recordkeeping, and compliance. (Click to enlarge)

USDA’s National Organic Program is the bedrock regulatory program responsible for developing national standards for organically-produced agricultural products. These standards assure consumers that products with the USDA organic seal meet consistent, uniform standards. In addition to protecting the integrity of the organic seal through a rigorous certification process and oversight, we are committed to connecting organic farmers and businesses with USDA resources, including conservation assistance, access to loans and grants, funding for organic research and education, and mitigation of pest emergencies.

The USDA organic seal and the NOP program itself have helped organic producers and businesses achieve unprecedented levels of growth for organically produced goods. The retail market for organic products has nearly doubled in value since 2009 while USDA certified organic operations continue to grow year to year. USDA’s National Organic Program is a leading global standard and major factor in this success. Read more »

Organic on the World Stage: Expo Milan 2015

AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo (first row, third from right) with panelists and Expo Ambassadors at the "Women Leading the Organic Way" panel at the USA Pavilion at the Expo Milano 2015

AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo (first row, third from right) with panelists and Expo Ambassadors at the "Women Leading the Organic Way" panel at the USA Pavilion at the Expo Milano 2015.

Across the country and around the world, more people are looking for organic options at their local markets.  Thanks to the remarkable growth in the number of USDA certified organic operations, which now number more than 27,800 worldwide, consumers have more choices than ever.  My agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), includes the National Organic Program, which plays a critical role in advancing the organic sector by developing clear standards for use of the USDA Organic seal, enforcing a level playing field, and expanding trade opportunities to create new markets for U.S. organic businesses.

Just last week, I had the privilege of highlighting the success of American organic agriculture on the world stage at the Expo Milan 2015 USA Pavilion, where the theme was “American Food 2.0:  United to Feed the Planet.”  During the “Women leading the Organic Way” panel discussion, I shared USDA’s vision for organic agriculture and all the ways in which USDA is supporting organic farmers and businesses.  I also emphasized the important role of women in agriculture – women farm 301.4 million acres in the U.S., and a relatively high proportion of organic farms are operated by women. Read more »

Engaging Spanish-Speaking Organic Stakeholders

A key component of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) work upholding organic integrity is providing the organic community with easy access to the National Organic Program’s (NOP) resources, to help producers and processors understand and comply with the USDA organic regulations.

In recent years, the presence of Spanish-speakers in the organic community has grown. In 2014, USDA-accredited certifying agents certified over 27,814 organic operations, one-third of which are located outside of the United States. 42 percent of international operations with USDA organic certification are in Spanish-speaking Latin America and the Caribbean. Read more »

Apoyando Miembros de la Comunidad Orgánica de Habla Hispana

Un componente clave del trabajo del Servicio de Comercialización Agrícola (conocida en inglés como el Agricultural Marketing Service o AMS) del USDA en asegurar la integridad orgánica es proporcionar a la comunidad orgánica acceso fácil a los recursos del Programa Nacional Orgánico (el National Organic Program  o NOP) que son necesarios para entender y cumplir con los reglamentos orgánicos del USDA.

En los últimos años, la presencia de personas hispanohablante en la comunidad orgánica ha crecido. En 2014, agentes certificadores acreditados por USDA certificaron más de 27,814 operaciones orgánicas, un tercio de las cuales están ubicadas fuera de los Estados Unidos. Un 42 por ciento de estas operaciones internacionales que tienen la certificación orgánica del USDA, están en países de habla hispana en Latino América y el Caribe. Read more »

Farmers Markets: Important Sales Outlets for Organic Farmers

Organic Vegetables sign above vegetables and flowers

If a farmer or vendor at a farmers market uses the word “organic” to describe their products or practices, they must comply with the USDA organic standards and regulations. The organic label indicates that the product has been produced through approved methods that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.

Across the nation, farmers markets continue to be great places for communities to gather, shop for fresh, healthy food, and get to know local farmers and ranchers.  Farmers markets are also important outlets for the sale of organic agricultural products. 

In fact, more than 40 percent of organic operations report direct sales to consumers.  As consumer demand for organic and local food increases, farmers markets offer important opportunities for organic producers to enter new markets and grow their businesses. Read more »

Assisting the Organic Community through Cost Share Programs

Man showing vegetables

Organic certification cost share programs puts organic certification within reach for farms of all sizes. It is of great value to organic farmers and supports the integrity of the organic label.

Consumers are increasingly looking for organic products when they visit the supermarket.  Last year, organic products reached a record number of sales, accounting for over $39 billion in U.S. retail sales.  To meet consumer demand, the industry needs more organic operations to produce everything from organic milk to organic granola bars. 

Thanks to support from the 2014 Farm Bill, USDA has two cost share programs that assist organic farms and businesses with about $11 million per year in certification assistance– making it possible for producers and handlers of all sizes to consider organic certification.  Cost share programs support certified operations across the organic supply chain by making certification more affordable. Read more »