Record Growth for Organic Food ProducersBY RENE THOMPSON The number of organic food producers in the U.S. increased 12 percent in 2015, and there are now 21,781 certified organic food operators nationwide, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. The Agricultural Marketing Service's (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP) said these numbers represent the highest growth rate since 2008, which is an increase of 300 percent since the data has been tracked starting in 2002. The total retail market for organic products is now valued at more than $39 billion in the United States and over $75 billion worldwide. New Mexico Department of Agriculture Public Information Officer Katie Goetz said New Mexico has also seen tremendous growth, with more than 150 organic producers in the state. Goetz explained that the totals not only include farmers and ranchers, but also other types of organic food producers, such as organic honey or salsa producers. Anything labeled organic and made in the state is certified through the NMDA and USDA. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “As consumer demand for organic products continues to grow, the USDA organic seal has become a leading global standard. The increasing number of organic operations shows that USDA's strong support for the vibrant organic sector is helping to create jobs and opportunities in rural communities." In the past, USDA published an updated the list of certified organic operations once each year. But a new database, made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill, lets organic certifiers add new operations and report changes to existing procedures at any time, which allows for easier data tracking. To find out info on how to become a certified organic producer in New Mexico, go to nmda.nmsu.edu. Rene Thompson is a staff writer at ABQ Free Press. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organic Food Production Blooms in N.M. is courtesy of ABQ Free Press