Posted by David Granatstein | July 26, 2018
Organic agriculture in Washington State, as with the rest of the country and world, experienced continued growth in 2017, as we documented in our latest report. New records were reached for certified farms and acres in the state, as well as for farmgate sales of organic products. Certified acres rose 3% to 110,000 acres, representing about 0.8% of the cropland in the state. There were 892 certified farms (2.3% of farms in the state), 29 farms registered for transition, and an uncounted number of exempt organic farms (sales less than $5,000 per year). Apples experienced the largest growth, up 36% to >22,000 acres. This remains the most prominent organic crop in the state economically, accounting for about 12% of all bearing apple acres in the state and over 90% of the fresh organic apple production in the U.S. The number of organic dairies also reached a new high of 50, with a record number of organic dairy cows. There were declines in acres of organic wheat, corn, dry bean, blueberry, snap bean, and potato acreage, while acres of organic corn silage, asparagus, green pea, pear, cherry, and mixed vegetables went up. Total organic farmgate sales were in excess of $667 million, a 2% growth that was slower than previous years perhaps due to lower organic apple prices. Grant County remained the leader in organic farms, acres, and sales statewide, while Skagit County was tops in western Washington for organic acres and sales. The central Washington irrigated area has the most transition acres and will continue as the dominant area for organic agriculture in the state. Read more »
Posted by David Granatstein | July 10, 2017
It’s hard for much to make the news other than politics these days. But the world keeps on turning, we keep on eating, and growers keep trying to meet consumer demand. Two recent CSANR reports provide updates on organic trends – one on the organic sector in Washington State in general, and one specifically on organic tree fruit.
In 2016, demand for organic foods grew once again reaching a new high of $43 billion of retail sales in the U.S. Sales grew at 8.4% over the previous year, a bit lower than the 10-12% annual growth since 2009. Global organic food sales were estimated at $81.6 billion in 2015 (the most recent year); U.S. sales made up 48% of this, with Europe accounting for 39%. Sales in Asia reached 8% and have been steadily increasing. Details on global organic trends can be found at World of Organic Agriculture . The most recent national sales summary is at the Organic Trade Association. Read more »
Posted by David Granatstein | August 29, 2016
It is apple harvest time again in Washington State, albeit about two weeks earlier than normal in most places. This will be a large crop overall, and probably a record crop for organic apples. The projection is for a harvest of just over 11 million 40-pound boxes of organic apples. At 88 apples per box (a typical size), that’s over 950 million organic apples. And while this sounds like a lot, if everyone in the US (say, 300 million people) ate one apple a day, that supply would be gone in less than four days. Still, demand is growing by around 10-12% per year, according to the annual surveys done by the Organic Trade Association. Based on data from grocery store sales, apples are the number two fresh fruit sold by value (behind berries) for both conventional and organic. A major food retailer reported that their sales of organic apples increased nearly 50% in 2015 over the previous year, a huge jump. And average organic apple prices received by growers hit record highs last season. The total value of the packed organic apples was just under $400 million, with 70% or more going directly to growers. This is a substantial contribution to the state’s economy. Read more »
Posted by David Granatstein | February 11, 2016
This post was written by Harold Austin, NOSB member and David Granatstein, WSU
The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-624, Nov. 28, 1990) was passed to establish a uniform definition and regulation of organic foods in the U.S. The law provides the framework for development of a system for organic certification (7 USC Ch. 94, Organic Certification) for farms, processors, and handlers. The varied organic certification programs and laws in place prior to the national law typically contained lists of prohibited materials for use in organic crop and livestock production and in organic food handling and manufacturing processes, based on the general principle of natural is acceptable, synthetic is prohibited. The Federal approach called for establishment of a “national list” that would delineate “allowed synthetics” and “prohibited naturals.” If a natural material was not on the list, it was allowed; if a synthetic materials was not on the list, it was prohibited. This was meant to expedite the process of material review by only debating the exceptions, not each specific allowed natural.
Posted by David Granatstein | September 8, 2015
Next week, Sept. 12-19, is Washington Organic Week, an annual celebration of organic farms, foods, and businesses in the state. This week we are releasing our 2014 statistical update of the organic sector, a report we have now produced for 10 years running. With continuous data over time, one can start to pick out some trends and patterns, which are discussed below. I had hoped to also be reporting here on the results of the 2014 USDA organic production survey, which was due to be released on August 31st but was delayed. Those results will be discussed in a future post. Globally, the most current data on organic agriculture come from the annual “World of Organic Agriculture” report (Willer and Lernoud, 2015), free online, which gathers data on the organic sector from 170 countries around the world.
Posted by David Granatstein | April 29, 2015
Consumer interest in blueberries as part of a healthy diet has exploded in recent years. Blueberries are considered one of the “superfruits”, full of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. They are also easy to use, especially in breakfasts, where the breakfast smoothie has become a standard way to start the day for many. This new morning pattern continues to create demand for ready to use ingredients such as blueberries. Washington State growers have produced blueberries commercially for many years, but our output has typically been less than our neighbors in Oregon and British Columbia. With the recent demand increases, new blueberry plantings in the state have followed. And the biggest shift is new plantings under irrigation in the Columbia Basin region, managed organically. A new publication on “Trends and Economics of Washington State Organic Blueberry Production” was just published by WSU faculty to help growers and others in the industry understand the current situation and evaluate opportunities for further expansion. Read more »
Posted by David Granatstein | September 5, 2014
Every year the second week in September (7th-13th this year) is designated as Washington Organic Week (WOW!) to celebrate the organic farmers, farms and food and the bounty of the harvest in our state (learn more HERE). Nationally, the organic sector did well in 2013, reaching $32.3 billion in retail food sales, up 11.4% from the previous year (Organic Trade Association, 2014). The steady growth in demand can be seen in Figure 1 below.
Posted by David Granatstein | May 28, 2014
The results of the 2012 Census of Agriculture were recently released by USDA. Every 5 years, the National Agricultural Statistics Service fields a nationwide census to all identifiable farms in the country. The census reports contain a wealth of information and new questions are added as agriculture changes, such as questions on direct marketing, organic production, use of rotational or management-intensive grazing, and harvest of biomass crops for energy. Read more »
Posted by David Granatstein | April 28, 2014
Every now and then a news story or article really makes me stop and think. I just listened to an interview on NPR on Monday, April 14, with Dr. Martin Blaser, infectious disease specialist and author of the new book “Missing Microbes.” He is the Director of the NYU Human Microbiome Program. The microbiome refers to the diverse array of micro-organisms that live in or on our bodies. It turns out that some 70-90% of the cells in and on our body are not our own human cells – they are cells of various bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other critters we cannot see with our eyes or normally detect with any of our senses. Read more »
Posted by David Granatstein | February 24, 2014
I had the good fortune to attend the National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health in Omaha, Nebraska recently. Soil health is in the limelight these days, with a new soil health initiative at the USDA-NRCS, a new Soil Health Partnership from the National Corn Growers Association, another soil health initiative from the Noble Foundation, and several recent meetings on soil health here in the Northwest including a session at the Washington State Horticulture meeting last December and a day-long soil quality workshop in Mt. Vernon. Read more »
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