- The number of organic farms, ranches, and processing facilities in the U.S. has grown to 19,474, which is a new record, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- That number of organic facilities is up 5% since last year and 250% since 2002, the year the USDA started tracking certified organic food producers.
- The USDA is also creating the Organic Integrity Database, "a modernized certified organic operations database that will provide accurate information about all certified operations that is updated on a regular basis."
Although the U.S. remains the top grower of corn and soybeans, much of these crops are grown using Monsanto and other companies' genetically modified seeds. Thus, to meet consumer demand for organics by producing organic feed, dairy, and other products, farmers and food companies are turning to other countries to import organic foods, particularly corn and soybeans. This is especially true for corn imports from Romania, the U.S.'s chief organic corn supplier, sales for which grew from $545,000 in 2013 to $11.6 million in 2014. Soybean imports from India also more than doubled in 2014.
The USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack thinks the growth of organic food producers is indicative of the growth of the U.S. agricultural industry and economy as a whole. He said in a statement, "Growing demand for organic goods can be especially helpful to smaller family operations. The more diverse type of operations and the more growing market sectors we have in American agriculture, the better off our country's rural economy will be."
To support this growth, last month, the USDA announced funding of over $66.5 million "for research and extension activities to address the needs of America's specialty crop industry and solve critical organic agricultural production issues."