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Posts tagged: organic

Agriculture Remains Key to the Garden State

New Jersey really is the Garden State –  the state doubled its square footage for nursery stock crops in between the 2007 and the 2012 Census of Agriculture.  Check back next Thursday for another state profile.

New Jersey really is the Garden State – the state doubled its square footage for nursery stock crops in between the 2007 and the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Check back next Thursday for another state profile.

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

The 2012 Census of Agriculture results are out and New Jersey remains true to its name. The Garden State greenhouse industry keeps blossoming. There are more than 1,560 farms in New Jersey that focus on greenhouse, nursery, and floriculture production. In the five year period since the last census, square footage for nursery stock crops in New Jersey more than doubled from 7.8 million square feet to 16 million.  And greenhouse tomatoes went from 162,000 square feet to 275,000.

Speaking of vegetables, that’s another sector of New Jersey agriculture that bears mentioning. With more than 50,000 acres of farmland dedicated to vegetables, our farmers grow nearly every vegetable included in the census. Tomatoes, New Jersey’s state vegetable, lead this charge, with 688 vegetable farms, more than half of the total, growing this crop. Other key crops grown locally include bell peppers, cucumbers, sweet corn, and snap peas. Read more »

Organic 101: Understanding the “Made with Organic***” Label

Organic is one label that most consumers are familiar with, but understanding what “organic” really means can help consumers make informed choices.  If a product meets these requirements, its label may include a statement like, “Made with organic oats and cranberries.”  A more generic statement like, “Made with organic ingredients,” is not allowed.

Organic is one label that most consumers are familiar with, but understanding what “organic” really means can help consumers make informed choices. If a product meets these requirements, its label may include a statement like, “Made with organic oats and cranberries.” A more generic statement like, “Made with organic ingredients,” is not allowed.

This is the sixteenth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.

Deciphering food labels and marketing claims can be a challenge for the average consumer.  Companies use production and handling claims as a way to differentiate their products in the marketplace. Organic is one label that most consumers are familiar with, but understanding what “organic” really means can help consumers make informed choices.

USDA certified organic products have strict production and labeling requirements.  The U.S. organic industry is regulated by the National Organic Program (NOP), part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.  Certified organic products are produced without excluded methods such as genetic engineering or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  The organic standards are designed to allow natural substances in organic farming while prohibiting synthetic substances. Read more »

Join Us for a Google+ Hangout: Growing the Organic Sector

On Wednesday, May 14th at 1:00 PM EDT, the USDA’s National Organic Program Specialist Betsy Rakola will host a Google+ Hangout to discuss strategies for growing U.S. organic production. During this Hangout, you’ll hear from farmers, organic certifiers, researchers, and community organizations at the forefront of todays’ organic market.

Participate in the Hangout on Wednesday by watching it live on the USDA Google+ page or on www.usda.gov/live.  Some of the questions we will discuss are: Read more »

Farm Bill Listening Session: New and Expanding Opportunities for the Organic Industry

Steve Etka with the National Organic Coalition provides input during the listening session.  The session gave USDA the opportunity to hear from stakeholders about their priorities during the implementation process and the impact that the new provisions will have on their communities.

Steve Etka with the National Organic Coalition provides input during the listening session. The session gave USDA the opportunity to hear from stakeholders about their priorities during the implementation process and the impact that the new provisions will have on their communities.

Organic agriculture serves as an engine for rural development, representing a $35 billion industry in the United States alone. USDA is committed to protecting the integrity of organic products, and ensuring that all of our agencies work together to help the organic sector continue to grow.

Members of the organic community are important partners in these efforts. As Administrator of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which includes the National Organic Program, I have had the privilege of getting to know our organic stakeholders – visiting their farms and talking to them about their priorities – and I have been very impressed. Thanks to the recently passed Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill), USDA is now even better equipped to support the success of organic operations. Read more »

The Growth of an Industry – 18,000+ Certified Organic Operations in the U.S. Alone

Across the U.S., there was about 4 percent increase in the number of certified organic operations in the last year, and nearly a 245 percent increase since 2002.

Across the U.S., there was about 4 percent increase in the number of certified organic operations in the last year, and nearly a 245 percent increase since 2002.

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. Read more »

Organic 101: Ensuring Organic Integrity through Inspections

Organic inspector Elizabeth Whitlow at an organic vineyard inspection.  Every organic operation involved between the farm and market is inspected to verify compliance with the USDA organic regulations. Photo courtesy ccof.org.

Organic inspector Elizabeth Whitlow at an organic vineyard inspection. Every organic operation involved between the farm and market is inspected to verify compliance with the USDA organic regulations. Photo courtesy ccof.org.

This is the fifteenth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.

USDA certified organic products are produced and sold around the world, many originating from over 17,700 organic operations right here in the United States. The USDA organic label assures consumers that products have been produced through approved methods and that prohibited substances, like synthetic pesticides, have not been used. I am often asked how the USDA verifies organic claims, and whether organic operations are inspected.

In order to sell, label, or represent products as organic in the United States, operations must be certified. The National Organic Program, part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, accredits private, foreign, and State entities called certifying agents to certify and inspect organic operations.

So how does this all work? First, the operation would apply for certification through a certifying agent. The certifier will ask for information including a history of substances applied to land during the previous three years, and an Organic System Plan describing the practices and substances to be used. The certifier reviews applications to verify that practices comply with USDA organic regulations, and then an inspector conducts an on-site inspection. Read more »