Secretary Tom Vilsack discussed his vision for U.S. organic agriculture and USDA efforts to ensure its continued success during remarks to the Organic Trade Association.

Vilsack announced a number of changes and new initiatives to support the continued growth of organic agriculture, including that the USDA's Risk Management Agency's (RMA) federal crop insurance program will increase coverage options for organic producers this year and provide even more options in 2014, including a contract price addendum as well as new premium price elections for organic crops. Additionally, RMA will remove the current five-percent organic rate surcharge on all future crop insurance policies beginning in 2014.

Vilsack also said USDA will be providing new guidance and direction on organic production to all USDA agencies in support of organic agriculture and markets. USDA is now asking each agency to routinely address the needs of the organic sector in their programs and services where appropriate. The National Organic Program has supported the continued growth of America's organic sector, which has been increasing market share each year and now is a more than $30 billion industry. Vilsack noted that accurate data is the biggest obstacle for developing better crop insurance options for organic farmers and expressed his desire that Congress help USDA make further progress by renewing the 2008 Organic Data Initiative as part of a new Food, Farms and Jobs bill.

"Organic agriculture is one of the fastest growing segments of American agriculture and helps farmers receive a higher price for their product as they strive to meet growing consumer demand," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "These new options will extend the safety net provided by crop insurance and provide fair and flexible solutions to organic producers. Coupled with the new guidance for agencies to support this growing sector, USDA recognizes that organics are gaining market share and is helping boost this emerging segment."

New crop-insurance pricing optionswill be available to organic producers who grow crops under guaranteed contracts beginning with the 2014 crop year. This contract price option allows organic producers who receive a contract price for their crop to get a crop insurance guarantee that is more reflective of the actual value of their crop. They will have the ability, where available and at their choice, to use their personal contract price as their price election or to choose existing crop insurance price elections. This contract price option will be available for between 60 and 70 crops in the 2014 crop year and this contract price feature will be available to the majority of insured organic crops. RMA is also changing organic transitional yields (t-yields) so they will be more reflective of actual organic farming experience, starting with the 2014 crop year.