March 2019 - 4

Organics footprint grows
When Congress passed the $867 billion
2018 Farm Bill, it established for the first
time permanent funding for organic
research by authorizing $50 million for the
Organic Agriculture Research and Extension
Initiative by the year 2023.
The $50 million threshold for this program
in the farm bill is being welcomed by the
organic industry because it makes the
program " baseline " or mandatory in the
USDA budget, creating more stability for
organic researchers and farmers.
Pew Research Center recently reported
there were more than 14,000 certified organic
Gary Pullano
Managing Editor
farms in the United States in 2016, according to the latest available data
from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics
Service. This represents a 56 percent increase from 2011, the earliest
comparable year.
" And while California remains king when it comes to the number of
organic farms, several other states saw dramatic growth in organic farming
over this time, particularly in the south, " Pew Research reported.
As the number of organic farms has increased, so too have sales of
certified organic products: U.S. farms and ranches sold nearly $7.6 billion in
certified organic goods in 2016, more than double the $3.5 billion in sales
in 2011.
Still, organic farming makes up a small share of U.S. farmland overall.
There were 5 million certified organic acres of farmland in 2016,
representing less than 1 percent of the 911 million acres of total farmland
nationwide. Some states, however, had relatively large shares of organic
farmland. Vermont's 134,000 certified organic acres accounted for 11
percent of its total 1.25 million farm acres. California, Maine and New York
followed in largest shares of organic acreage - in each, certified organic
acres made up 4 percent of total farmland.
California had by far the most certified organic farms in 2016, with
2,713. Its nearly 1.1 million acres of organic farms represented 21 percent
of all U.S. certified organic land.
Thaddeus Barsotti's 600-acre family farm, Capay Organics in Yolo County,
California, grows a full spread of vegetables in addition to Blenheim
apricots, figs, mandarins and mission and candy-stripe figs.
Barsotti, who serves on the board of California Certified Organic
Farmers, was recently named Grower of the Year at the annual Organic
Grower Summit. Barsotti outlined the challenges of organic farming in a
story on Page 24.
" More growers are growing organically and the crops are becoming
more of a commodity, so it's difficult to find crops with which you can
compete with larger growers. Growing without pesticides and herbicides
also has not become easier, " Barsotti told VGN Associate Editor Stephen
" Pest control and weed control are two things that pretty hard for
organic, " Barsotti said. " The only way you do it is by having clean fields
and being on top of it. There's nothing you can do once you have a weedy
field, or have a buggy field. " Cover crops and solarization with plastic
help kill weed seeds, and mechanical cultivation and hand labor are also
occasionally necessary.
Apples, lettuce, strawberries, grapes, tomatoes and corn trail only cow's
milk as the top organic foods by sales value. That puts specialty crops right
in the sweet spot for profitable organic crop production.
Organic production remains a relatively small - but growing - segment
of the specialty crop world. Consumers - and retailers - are increasing their
demand for these products. And, as time goes by, the attention we give to
this sector in our Vegetable Growers News coverage will continue to grow.
We know the genetics, with high certainty, of what
we're growing. "
P. 18
4 |
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OPGMA holds successful Produce Network
The Ohio Produce Growers and
Marketers Association held its annual
Ohio Produce Network on Jan. 16-17 at
the Embassy Suites in Dublin, Ohio.
Bee Vectoring crop enhancement product
used in Florida
Mississauga, Ontario, Canadabaased
Bee Vectoring Technologies
International has invoiced the first
commercial sales of its proprietary beebased
crop enhancement technology to
strawberry growers in Florida.
California ag overtime guidelines released
by commissioner
The California Labor Commissioner's
Office has posted guidance for
agricultural employers and workers on
an overtime pay schedule that went
into effect Jan. 1.
Researchers monitor, forecast cucurbit
downy mildew
A regional approach to cucurbit downy
mildew prevention, monitoring and
management receives funding. http://www.VEGETABLEGROWERSNEWS.COM

March 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of March 2019

March 2019 - 1
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