USDA reports spike in number or organic certifications

revenuesThe USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service has announced a significant increase in the number of accredited certified organic farm operations for 2014 and 2015.

According to the data collected, there were 14,861 certified organic operations in the United States in 2015, including 77 in Virginia.

Organic food is one of the fastest-growing segments of American agriculture. Certified organic farms operated 5.3 million acres of certified land in 2015, up from 4.1 million in 2014. In Virginia, certified organic farms operated on 24,786 acres, an increase from 20,627 acres in 2014.

“It’s encouraging to see more organic producers are becoming certified organic; it’s a testament to consumer demand for organic foods,” said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “Organic certification requires producers keep significant records and adhere to other regulations, and they are subject to compliance audits, so there is a time and labor commitment to certification in addition to fees.”

The USDA’s organic certifier survey includes data on certified crops and livestock operations. According to the data, the number of USDA-accredited certified organic livestock and poultry producers is also on the rise, from 1,401 operations in 2014 to 2,001 in 2015.

The National Organic Program is a regulatory program housed within the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. It is responsible for developing national standards for organically produced agricultural products. Organic certification allows a farm or processing facility to sell, label and represent its products as organic.

Producer participation in the NASS 2014 and 2015 Organic Certifier Survey was voluntary, and a copy of the report is available at nass.usda.gov/Surveys/Guide_to_NASS_Surveys/Organic_Production/Organic_Certifiers/2016/USDA_Accredited_Certifying_Agent_Certified_Organic_Data_2014_2015.pdf.




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