The USDA organic label on dairy or meat products means that the animals from which it originated were raised in living conditions that accommodated their natural behaviors, without being administered hormones or antibiotics, and while grazing on pasture grown on healthy soil. Photo by Ryan Thompson.
This is the first in series of Organic 101 pieces that will explore the different rules within the USDA organic regulations.
When it comes to organic foods, it’s just as important to know what isn’t allowed as what is. The organic standards are process-based, meaning they establish the rules for an entire system of farming that follows a product from its beginnings on the farm all the way to retail. Read more »
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) was all ears on Tuesday as it opened up its hall to organic stakeholders to ask the question, “What activities should the Department focus on to serve the organic community?”
Many took the opportunity to respond. During a day-long listening session hosted by USDA, organic stakeholders shared their thoughts, concerns, praises, and requests with the department that administers the organic certification program and enforces the country’s organic standards.
The USDA’s National Organic Program, part of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), currently serves a $29 billion industry on a budget of less than $7 million—and the industry continues to grow amidst challenging economic conditions. In support of that growth, USDA has a goal to increase the number of certified organic operations to over 20,000 by 2015–that’s a 20 percent growth from 2009. Read more »
Donn Teske, farmer and President of the Kansas Farmers’ Union, is optimistic. He believes that small and mid-sized farms are making successful inroads to improve their market power and these efforts have great potential. Donn himself operates a fifth generation, 2,000 acre organic farm and ranch in northeastern Kansas, and, in spite of increasing difficulties, he has not been deterred from continuing to improve the marketing opportunities for mid-sized farmers.
One of these opportunities has come from the Kansas Organic Producers (KOP), a group of nearly sixty farmers that provides crucial marketing services for its members. Established in 1974 as an education association to help promote the production and marketing of organic products, the group restructured in 1992 to focus on marketing organic grain. One-third of Donn’s farm is dedicated to alfalfa hay, red clover, milo (grain sorghum), corn, soybeans and wheat. With nearly his entire crop production servicing the livestock industry, KOP is his primary marketing channel. His harvest alone would be far more difficult to market effectively, but the services of KOP give growers a shared clout. Read more »
In a nation founded on the values of hard work and entrepreneurship, we often look to industry leaders for the next game-changing idea. So it’s no surprise that I was excited to hear what the members of one of the fresh fruit and vegetable industry’s leading trade associations, United Fresh Produce Association, had to say about the future of farming in America.
At their annual Washington Public Policy Conference, United Fresh presents their “Grower Achievement Award” to honor “a role model for the industry” who has “taken agriculture to new heights in the areas of consumer-oriented marketing, technology; food quality and safety; industry leadership, and the spirit of achievement.” Read more »