Global sales of organic food reached $80 billion in 2014, with the U.S. the largest organic market, according to findings in The World of Organic Agriculture: Statistics & Emerging Trends 2016 unveiled during BioFach in February by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and IFOAM—Organics International.
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.
Bob Quinn has been an organic wheat farmer in Montana for 30 years. Through the years, he’s spoken at countless meetings and workshops, written articles, given interviews on organic, and he says never in his three decades of practicing—and advocating—organic has he received as many questions about transitioning to organic agriculture as he has in the past six months.
Fact: You can eat organic on a budget. Fact: Organic agriculture can help feed the planet. Fact: There are proven health benefits of organic. These are three of the more than 30 research-backed facts that OTA and partners digitally disseminated each day in September as part of its highly successful “Myth-Busting Month” social media festival.
Organic Farmer of the Year Benny McLean of Uncle Matt’s Organic says it makes him feel good to see his 12 grandkids work in the soil and learn how healthy food is grown. Growing the Organic Industry recipient Tom Harding of Lehigh Valley Organic Growers says after 30 years advocating for organic, he still feels like he’s just beginning the trek for organic. And Rising Star winner Michael Berger of Elevation Burger says his commitment to advancing organic and selling healthy fast food to American consumers has never been stronger.
From the East Wing of the White House to the Halls of Congress, organic is spreading its roots in the nation’s capital. Today’s crop of organic influencers is making a difference in agricultural policy, federal legislation, international affairs, food and health guidelines, public research approaches, and environmental issues. The number of organic advocates in Washington has probably never been greater, including individuals with genuine down-to-earth roots in certified organic agriculture. In this edition, we are profiling a handful of these folks who are making their voices heard. These hard-working and committed individuals show how organic truly is seeding changes—in the food we eat, the way we think, and the future of our world.
Jeff Rakity of Natural Flavors/Elan received OTA’s 2015 Member of the Year Award at OTA’s Annual Meeting in September. This special recognition, driven by OTA staff and endorsed by OTA’s Board, was created to honor a truly engaged member—a dedicated volunteer, fearless leader and apt cheerleader for OTA while serving overall as an ambassador for OTA and the industry.
Developing any federal regulation takes a considerable amount of time and energy. The organic sector has an additional layer to this process, as most new organic regulations originate as recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and undergo an arduous journey of public scrutiny and rulemaking. The long-awaited ‘Origin of Livestock’ proposed rule released this summer illustrates the deliberate and transparent steps that must occur for an organic production concept to become codified in the federal regulations.
One of the most important ways that we can protect our farmworkers is by supporting organic agriculture. Because organic certified farming operations are prohibited from using most synthetic pesticides, organic farms ensure that farm workers, their families, and their communities are safe from the negative effects of toxic pesticide exposure.
Located in a refurbished Verizon facility in Fairfax, VA, close to our country’s capital, OTA member company MetaWear has launched the first GOTS-certified ethical manufacturing and dye factory in the United States. This cutting-edge solar- and geothermal-powered manufacturing facility provides cutting, sewing, dyeing and screen-printing to produce certified organic cotton T-shirts.