- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has teamed with the Organic Trade Association to launch a program that certifies farmland in the process of switching to organic, according to a joint statement.
- This certification will let farmers increase prices on products that are raised in accordance with organic guidelines while they are transitioning to certification, which takes several years.
- As demand for organically raised livestock and organic breads and cereals fuel the need for organic grains, those producers will greatly benefit from this new certification, according to OTA Farm Policy Director Nate Lewis.
Consumer demand for products grown without the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers have fueled the rise of organics over the last few years.
The global organic food market is expected to increase at a CAGR of more than 14% from 2016 to 2021, according to a TechSci Research news release. The organic shopper base has expanded far beyond the traditional core group of hard-core organic loyalists, with many analysts saying it has more than doubled in scale in a very short time.
Because of organic crop supply shortages, a number of new initiatives have been launched to encourage farmers to transition their land to organic in order to meet growing demand.
According to the Organic & Non-GMO report, the initial wave of organic farmers was made up of producers who cared about the environment, and weren’t as concerned with financial incentives. Those transitioning now are doing so for financial gain, but the required three-year transition period can be daunting and expensive.
The USDA's new certification program will help farmers during those transition years. The process is time-consuming and can be frustrating, but ag insiders predict this will alleviate some of those headaches.
But as the program goes into effect, special designations and labels — as well as informational campaigns — are needed to tell consumers what a "transitioning" product is, and educate them on the difference between them and certified organic products. With certified supplies often running low, these items will make a great second-choice for earth-conscious buyers.