USDA Support Organic Farmers
In my last blog, “The Specialty Niches That Are Becoming Mainstream” I spoke to the end-user markets driving specialty food niches such as “Organic”, “Natural”, “Non-GMO”, “Free-Range” and “Antibiotic-Free”. Those end-user markets were a major food store (Whole Foods) and major restaurant chains (Chipotle and Panera Bread). Now we have the U.S. government supporting the specialty food segment with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcing new support for organic farmers. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack personally spoke recently at the Organic Trade Association.
He announced a number of changes and new initiatives to support growth of organic agriculture. One of the major announcements is the federal crop insurance program will increase coverage options for organic producers in 2013 and will provide more options in 2014. In addition, he said the USDA will be providing new guidance and direction on organic product to all USDA agencies in support of organic agriculture and markets. Each agency is asked to address the needs of the organic sector with appropriate programs and services.
Secretary Vilsack said, “Organic agriculture is one of the fastest growing segments of American agriculture…the USDA recognizes that organics are gaining market share and is helping boost this emerging segment.”
Organic retail sales are estimated to have grown 9.5% in 2011 and represents over 4% of all retail food sales in the U.S. So the U.S. consumer has already been demanding more organic foods. These numbers certainly have grown further in 2012 and so far in 2013. With the assistance of the market driven promotions by the premium food markets and restaurants, it will speed up the market share growth of organics and other health or quality driven product segments. Now with the federal government further supporting the organic industry, we must stop calling it a niche and referring to it as real segment of the food industry. Growth in the U.S. market will certainly expand to International markets as more International production is directed at this segment.
As I ended my last blog, if you have not started to look at the value-added food segments such as organics, now is the time. Insta-Pro with value-added, chemical free processes is ready to help.
For more details you can read the USDA press release here.