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Posts tagged: organic

Behind the Scenes with Ag Statistics

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

It is astounding to reflect at the end of the year and realize once again how many pieces came together each day, each week, and each month to make sure the United States has the best official agricultural statistics. It is something of a well-oiled machine made up of America’s farmers, statisticians, modern technology, deep agricultural knowledge, and the most basic elements of human interaction – trust and hard work – that brings forth these useful and objective data on time year after year since 1840.

It takes hundreds of thousands of producers responding to a multitude of surveys each year, in addition to the every-five-year Census of Agriculture which USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducted this year, to provide the source information about U.S. farm production.  For this, we thank each individual producer who takes the time to complete the surveys.  Get a first look at the 2012 Census of Agriculture data on February 20, 2014 at the Ag Outlook Forum. Read more »

Organic International – Opening New Markets for American Organic Producers

This partnership is a win for the American economy and sets the foundation for additional organic agricultural trade agreements in Asia.

This partnership is a win for the American economy and sets the foundation for additional organic agricultural trade agreements in Asia.

Today, we celebrate a historical announcement in the global organic community – beginning in 2014 organic products certified in Japan or in the U.S. may be sold as organic in either country.

The United States has trade arrangements with several nations to facilitate the global exchange of organic products. This particular partnership will streamline access to the growing Japanese organic market for American farmers and processors, benefiting the thriving organic industry and supporting jobs and businesses on a global scale. Equally important is that consumers benefit from a diverse array of organic products year-round. Read more »

Kenya Borlaug Fellow Gains Insight on Helping Local Farmers

“Our dream is to be part of upgrading the living standards of small-scale farmers who produce the foods that go into Azuri products, in a sustainable and profitable way,”  —Tei Mukunya, CEO of Azuri Health Limited, Kenya

A common challenge among small-scale farmers in developing countries is getting their products from the farm to markets. Tei Mukunya, the CEO of a health foods company in Kenya, believes her recent participation in USDA’s Borlaug Fellowship Program will help her address this issue in her country.

For nearly 10 years, the Borlaug program has helped developing countries strengthen sustainable agricultural practices by providing U.S.-based training and research opportunities to visiting agricultural policymakers and researchers. Mukunya recently finished a 12-week fellowship at Michigan State University to study the latest solar drying technology. Her company uses the technology to make organic health foods. Read more »

Organic 101: Can GMOs Be Used in Organic Products?

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

The use of genetic engineering, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is prohibited in organic products. This means an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can’t use any GMO ingredients. To meet the USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show they aren’t using GMOs and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances, such as GMOs, from farm to table.

Organic operations implement preventive practices based on site-specific risk factors, such as neighboring conventional farms or shared farm equipment or processing facilities.  For example, some farmers plant their seeds early or late to avoid organic and GMO crops flowering at the same time (which can cause cross-pollination). Others harvest crops prior to flowering or sign cooperative agreements with neighboring farms to avoid planting GMO crops next to organic ones. Farmers also designate the edges of their land as a buffer zone where the land is managed organically, but the crops aren’t sold as organic. Any shared farm or processing equipment must be thoroughly cleaned to prevent unintended exposure to GMOs or prohibited substances. Read more »

Organic 101: Almost 25,000 Certified Operations at Your Fingertips

In 2012, there was significant growth in the number of operations in California, Iowa, and New England, and only slight growth in the number of operations in the southeastern United States.  This map shows the concentration of organic operations within the U.S.

In 2012, there was significant growth in the number of operations in California, Iowa, and New England, and only slight growth in the number of operations in the southeastern United States. This map shows the concentration of organic operations within the U.S.

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

Last week the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) published the 2012 list of certified organic operations. Our online database now provides information on 17,750 certified USDA organic farms and processing facilities in the United States. That’s almost a 240 percent increase since the NOP began tracking this data in 2002. Worldwide, there are now close to 25,000 certified organic operators representing more than 100 countries. Read more »

Organic 101: Strengthening Organic Integrity through Increased Residue Testing

From produce, like these vine-ripened tomatoes, to processed foods like cheese and milk, additional testing requirements will help certifying agents identify cases where prohibited methods and substances are being used. Photo courtesy Jess Sanson.

From produce, like these vine-ripened tomatoes, to processed foods like cheese and milk, additional testing requirements will help certifying agents identify cases where prohibited methods and substances are being used. Photo courtesy Jess Sanson.

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

In late 2012, the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) announced a strengthened residue testing program to help increase consumer confidence in the $32 billion organic industry worldwide. Consumers purchase organic products expecting that they maintain their organic integrity from farm to market, and USDA is committed to meeting these expectations. This program will provide additional verification that organic farmers are following the rules and not using prohibited substances. Read more »