Washington, D.C.—As America continues to face its worst economic situation since the Great Depression, the Obama Administration acknowledges that the organic agriculture and trade industry lends a generous hand in improving our nation.
The Council of Economic Advisers, the White House Rural Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report June 11, 2012 commending the industry on its success. The report stressed the immense contributions of the organic industry within the U.S. agricultural economy and its part in expanding opportunities for agricultural production—two major points to highlight in the upcoming Farm Bill season, which is up for renewal next year.
“The organic sector is fueling jobs and rural livelihoods at an astounding rate,” said Matt McLean, Organic Trade Association (OTA) board president and, CEO and founder of Uncle Matt’s Organic. “Organic is also creating an important economic opportunity for rural Americans through new business opportunities generated from the recent organic equivalency trade arrangements with Canada and the European Union.”
McLean also noted that the U.S. organic food industry is a significant component of President Obama’s efforts to boost agricultural exports. For instance, the Administration successfully negotiated organic food equivalency agreements with Canada and the European Union.
Moreover, the organic industry has in fact created a plethora of opportunities for rural Americans. The report boasted that the industry grew by 9.5% overall in 2011 to reach $31.4 billion in sales and created more than 500,000 jobs in 2010, the latter according to an OTA report in April. In addition, the number certified organic operations grew 6% from 2009 to 2011.
According to crop values issued by the USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service, it takes sixth place for the value of production, right after wheat and cotton and directly before almonds, peanuts and rice. The report called organic farming the “fastest growing sector in organic.” Despite this prominence, some believe the American government should focus more on the growing agriculture sector.
“As the 2012 Farm Bill debate continues in the Senate this week, elected officials should remain cognizant of the fact that the organic industry has thrived—providing jobs, supporting rural livelihoods and advancing in entrepreneurial spirit—despite very modest investments in research, development and promotion compared to the support provided to other agriculture sectors,” said Christina Bushway, OTA’s CEO and executive director. “U.S. farm policy should level the playing field and provide the organic sector access to the same opportunities and benefits long afforded to others so that our industry can further contribute to moving the economy forward.”
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, August 2012 (online 6/13/12)