Demand for organic food in the U.S. continues to increase, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in American agriculture. Having experienced double-digit growth since the 1990s, organic sales reached a new record of $49.4 billion in 2017. Today, organic goods can be found in 75 percent of all U.S. supermarkets. For farmers across the country, this strong consumer demand for organic food translates can often mean new, more profitable market opportunities.
Behind the organic label are farmers who are dedicated to following strict standards to become certified, and who require unique support and outreach to support their growing practices and markets. Organic practices have the potential to increase farm revenue in our rural communities, preserve and enhance the environment, and provide healthy food to communities. It is therefore critical that federal policies aimed at assisting farmers’ and ranchers’ transition to organic production be prioritized by Congress and by the U.S. Department of Agriculture..
Support for organic agriculture was a core piece of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s 2018 Farm Bill platform, and together with our allies we succeeded in advancing historic wins for the organic community. Among the most significant farm bill wins, was the achievement of permanent, mandatory funding for organic research (up to $50 million over the next five years), and additional support for farmers transitioning into certified organic production.
This section of our guide provides an overview of the key federal programs focused on supporting and expanding organic production, including certification cost-share assistance for farmers and dedicated research funds for academic researchers. It includes programs directly available to producers, as well as programs available to community-based organizations and institutions working on the ground to strengthen and expand organic production nationwide.