For years, the organic industry has experienced enormous growth, defying expectations and creating exciting opportunities for producers and entrepreneurs around the world. 2014 was another record year for the organic community, with 19,474 certified organic operations in the United States and nearly 28,000 certified organic operations from more than 120 countries around the globe.
The retail market for organic products is now valued at more than $39 billion in the U.S. and over $75 billion worldwide. With its rapidly growing market and high consumer interest, USDA is focused on helping this area of agriculture achieve even greater success. In May 2013, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued guidance that identified organic priorities for the Department, including training and outreach, growing the organic sector, reducing paperwork, improving research, and gathering data.
USDA’s Organic Working Group, which I have the honor of chairing, has been working across USDA agencies to proactively implement the Secretary’s vision. We’ve made great strides in just the last two years. My agency, the Agricultural Marketing Service, also oversees USDA’s National Organic Program, the bedrock regulatory program responsible for developing and enforcing clear standards and expanding trade opportunities to create new markets for U.S. organic operations.