What is in this article?:
- Organic leap as US and EU form partnership
- Agricultural bright spot
- Over the past decade, organic food sales more than quadrupled from $6.1 billion to nearly $27 billion. As organic exports expect to grow 8 percent annually over the next several years, this growth has also created important opportunities for international trade, supporting jobs here at home.
Agricultural bright spot
Overall, agriculture is a bright spot in our economy, enjoying record exports, record incomes for farming families, and a trade surplus that is nine times greater today than it was just five years ago. Today, agriculture supports 1 in 12 jobs in the United States and provides American consumers with 83 percent of the food we consume. To sustain these successes and to continue to feed our nation and the world, the United States must continue to build a diverse agriculture industry and attract the smartest, hardest-working young people in the nation to careers in agriculture.
The fact that organics is an appealing practice for many young and beginning farmers is not lost on USDA. Currently, 30 percent of principal operators of farms are 65 years old or more. By diversifying our agricultural practices and working with new partners such as the EU to improve markets for our agricultural products, we are also investing our country’s future.
For me, organics and beginning farmers are near and dear to my heart. I drafted the Organic Foods Production Act under the direction of Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, then Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture. Today, more than 20 years later, the organic industry has blossomed. National surveys have indicated that more than two-thirds of U.S. consumers buy organic products at least occasionally, and 28 percent buy organic products weekly. And, most importantly, organics have given many farmers, young and old, a second chance.
With the EU partnership, as with the Canadian arrangement before it, Travis Forgues sees a more stable future for his family and community. It means higher incomes for organic farmers and ranchers, more opportunities for small businesses, and jobs for people who package, ship, and market organic products. Estimates show the market for U.S. organic sales to the EU could grow more than 300 percent within the first few years. It is another major win for the American economy and President Obama’s jobs strategy. More importantly, it is a win for Travis, his young family, and many others like them.