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Posts tagged: organic

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 »

Celebrating National Co-op Month: Ohio Farmers Join Forces to Grow their Market Reach

Tomatoes inspected by Great River Organics board member Michael Jones and General Manager Charlotte Graham

These tomatoes, inspected by Great River Organics board member Michael Jones and General Manager Charlotte Graham, will be distributed through the co-op’s weekly community-supported agriculture deliveries.

October is National Cooperative Month, and all this month we will be shining a spotlight on several projects throughout the month that have been supported through USDA Rural Development’s Cooperative Services. One fine example is Great River Organics in Ohio. Kimberly Rous and Hannah Scott work for our partner, the Ohio Cooperative Development Center in Piketon, Ohio and provided us some insight on a successful cooperative venture that is producing organic produce throughout central and north-central Ohio.

Great River Organics formed as a farmer-owned cooperative in December of 2014. Comprised of seven certified-organic farmers in central Ohio, the cooperative aggregates, markets, and distributes the organic produce grown by the farmer-owners through programs like the Great River Market Bag, a community-supported agriculture program that includes about 300 subscribers across central Ohio. They’re also actively involved in the Ohio and West Virginia Food Hub Network, which promotes the development of food hubs in the region. 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 »

Montana Soil Conservationist, Organic Farmer Work Together to Reach Conservation Goals

Ben Ferencz and Julie Pavlock of Foothills Farm in St. Ignatius, Montana with their hoop house in background

Ben Ferencz and Julie Pavlock of Foothills Farm in St. Ignatius, Montana discuss working with NRCS. Their hoop house is in the background. Photo credit: Suzanne Pender

When I learned that the “This American Land” public television series was headed to Montana, I knew this would be a great opportunity to highlight organic producers and the work USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is doing to increase conservation across the state. I’ve been working for NRCS for 10 years and in the Ronan, Montana, field office since 2010. Since transferring to Ronan, I’ve devoted much of my time to providing technical and financial assistance to beginning farmers in the area – especially landowners who are engaged or interested in diversified organic vegetable production for local markets. 

Building lasting relationships goes hand-in-hand with getting conservation on the ground. So, when Ben Ferencz and Julie Pavlock of Foothills Farm in St. Ignatius were interested in expanding their farm, they reached out to me about available NRCS programs. Read more »

Mixed Crop-Livestock Systems: Changing the Landscape of Organic Farming in the Palouse Region

Dorper ewes grazing in selected areas in a mixed crop-livestock research project

Dorper ewes graze in selected areas in a mixed crop-livestock research project. (Image courtesy of Jonathan Wachter)

Grazing livestock may soon be a common sight in the Palouse region of southeastern Washington, usually known for its rolling hills and grain production. 

Jonathan Wachter, a soil science doctoral student at Washington State University, has been working with a local farm to improve the competitiveness of organic mixed crop-livestock systems and their potential adoption by growers in a conventional grain-producing region. Read more »