Eating organic is not fringe nor is it a fad and last year’s sales records prove that. Whereas the “total U.S. food sales grew by less than one percent in 2010, the organic food industry grew by 7.7 percent,” reports the Organic Trade Association (OTA). Its survey revealed that the organic industry grew to over $28.6 billion in 2010.
And that’s good news all around. Not only are Americans recognizing the health and environmental benefits of organic eating but the positive growth in the organic sector translates into jobs. According to OTA, in 2010, 40% of surveyed organic companies reported positive full-time employment growth. Furthermore, in 2011, 46% of respondents anticipate an increase in employment over 2010 levels.
It is impressive that the organic industry supports 14,540 organic farms and ranches across the country. A total of 4.1 million acres of land are currently in organic management, and there are organic farms in all 50 states. Despite the nation’s poor economic health, the organic industry has come out of the recession hiring employees, adding farms, and increasing revenue.
The areas of fastest growth include organic fruits and vegetables, which represent 39.7% total organic food value, and nearly 12 percent of all U.S. fruit and vegetable sales, reached nearly $10.6 billion in 2010, up 11.8% from 2009 performance. Organic dairy, the second-largest category, experienced 9% growth to achieve a value of $3.9 billion, and captured nearly 6% of the total U.S. market for dairy products.
Earlier in April, the Agricultural Secretary, Tom Vilsack, recognized that “[o]rganic farming is an important part of the U.S. agricultural landscape,” at the OTA policy conference. He also indicated that “USDA is creating financial assistance for organic because we recognize organic as a part of the strategy to rebuild rural America, …A lot of folks in rural America need help. One very good strategy is organic.”
Good point, Mr. Secretary. If only your agency remembered these canons when deregulating without limitations genetically modified crops which threaten organic farming.