For both consumers and producers, US organic farming has continued to follow strong upward trend.
According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the area of certified organic crop land increased by more than 70, to 3.5 million acres, between 2011 and 2019. Organic pastures and pastures in that time period also increased by about 22%, accounting for 2 million acres.
On the retail side, organic foods are big – if not fully grown – business. Industry sources report that sales of organic food products in the United States more than doubled in the decade after 2010, to more than $51 billion.
For some categories of organic farming, such as cereals and oilseed crops, US demand has increased faster than domestic supply.
Despite this booming business, farmers and other farmers still face major challenges in tapping into this growing market.
Producers—whether they are already certified or considering entering the industry—face any number of barriers to transition, which are often experienced due to a lack of effective tools in managing soil health, diseases, pests and weeds. Another problem is the limited availability of certified organic forage, certified grazing land, and identity-preserving supply chains.
On this year’s World Organic Day, we’re highlighting the many projects funded through NIFA’s organic farming programs that enhance the ability of US producers to grow and market high-quality organic agricultural products.
Balancing soil health and food safety in agricultural fertilizer use
In a single $2 million, five-year project funded through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, a team of scientists at land-grant universities from California to me who She worked in a public-private partnership to study how organic producers can make better use of animal manure and compost while preventing foodborne disease risks.
consequences search – Aimed to provide organic farmers with science-based strategies on developing optimal waiting times between manure application and crop harvest – Shared with farmers and other industry professionals through webinars, educational modules, workshops and other trainings.
Watch the videos on the project website.
Improving the production of organic milk through the use of mixtures of legumes and grass
In the University of New HampshireAnd the Dr. Andre Britto Drove Five-year study To determine how changes in the mixture of legumes and herbs over multiple years affect feed quality, milk production, and greenhouse gas emissions when feeding organic dairy cows.
Among the study objectives: To provide management best practices directly to farmers on how to produce nutritionally superior organic milk.
The research, funded through the Organic Transitions Program, revealed a number of findings. One tip: second and third minds generally improve nutritional value. The research team shared these and other findings with organic and conventional dairy farmers across the Northeast, as well as with extension educators, industry stakeholders, and academic communities, through workshops, webinars, pasture walks, and field days.
Providing education to rural veterinarians about organic regulations, and treatment options
Research promoting organic production in the United States is also underway in other programs across the NIFA funding portfolio, such as Research and Education Program in Sustainable Agriculture, Small Business Research and Innovation Programs, Technology Transfer and Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP).
Through VSGP, researchers at Iowa State University be Developed six online continuing education courses To share knowledge on a topic not generally covered in veterinary school: organic regulations as well as treatment options and unique practices for organic and non-traditional producers.
The two-year project led by James Roth Katie Stenroden seeks to bridge the gaps in perception, knowledge, and communication between veterinarians and these producers, with the overall goal of helping build relationships between these two groups to improve animal health, increase food safety, and support rural economies.
Learn more about the $34 million NIFA Awards issued in fiscal year 2022 to help advance organic farming.
Top photo: Amy’s Organic Garden in Charles City, Virginia, on Thursday, May 5, 2011. Owner Amy Hicks harvests vegetables on her farm.
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