Organic is one of the fastest growing segments of America agriculture and consumer demand for organic products continues to rise. The vibrant U.S. organic sector is creating jobs and opportunities in communities across the nation. OTA's 2016 Infographic tells the story of Organic: a Bright Spot for our Farms, our Food, and our Future.
By now, you’re probably familiar with the pie chart illustrating the major categories within the organic food sector. The largest share of sales belongs to fruits and vegetables— accounting for more than 36% of the total $39.7 billion U.S. shoppers spent on organic food in 2015. Fruits and vegetables are more than double the size of the next largest category, according to OTA’s 2016 Organic Industry Survey, and it is the only organic food category to have experienced double-digit growth every year dating back to 2005.
The Compelling Case for an Organic Check-off
For over a decade, including six years as Chief Scientist of The Organic Center, I have focused on new science from around the world on the impacts of organic farming on food safety, food nutritional quality, and agriculture’s environmental footprint.
One of OTA’s strongest assets as an organization is the diversity and breadth of its membership.
2015 was an exciting year for organic research, with multiple cutting-edge studies revealing scientific breakthroughs on the environmental and human health benefits of organic food and farming.
In 2015, The Organic Center released almost a hundred study summaries and blogs about scientific breakthroughs of interest to organic stakeholders. Research covered environmental issues such as soil and pollinator health, health issues such as pesticide exposure, and several other critical categories.
OTA’s Farmers Advisory Council (FAC) enters into its third year stronger and broader than ever. Its membership includes OTA farmer members and organic farmer- governed organizations from coast to coast and across all sectors of the industry. Discussions at FAC meetings are going more in-depth than ever before, eliciting thinking and solutions to some of the world’s most pressing agricultural related issues. With the strong and diverse participation, 2016 is shaping up to be an ambitious year for FAC.
Dairy policy is complicated. Highly complex, distinct, and regional policies for producers and processors, arcane and intensely bureaucratic processes—this defines the Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) system.
In three different positions with organic food companies, Michael O’Gorman made his mark, becoming responsible for $200 million in organic produce over a 40-year period. When 9/11 hit, his life started to move in another direction. His daughter was working across from the Trade Center when the planes hit. His son responded by joining the military. The effect on his children’s lives prompted O’Gorman to see how he could help the men and women who served his country.
Research—on–farm and at land-grant universities—could help solve some of the most pressing production-related issues that keep existing organic farmers from expanding and optimizing production, and pose a barrier for conventional farmers looking to convert their acreage to organic production. For this, the GRO Organic check-off proposal now before USDA could play a key role in funding research vital to addressing those issues.