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Organic Farming Blossoms Into Booming Industry

In early 2022, there were 45,830 certified organic businesses worldwide.

Once a niche market, organic farming has grown into something much bigger — a billion-dollar industry.  

In 2021, organic sales surpassed $63 billion. In early 2022, there were 45,830 certified organic businesses worldwide. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing in organic agriculture, as it is becoming an increasingly important part of American agriculture.  

“Organic production allows producers to demand a premium in the marketplace and take home a greater share of the food dollar,” according to a USDA spokesperson.  

One of the critical components in the market’s success is supporting farmers in their transition to organic production as they navigate technical, cultural and market shifts during the first few years of organic certification. The Transition to Organic Partnership Program, or TOPP, is one of the key components of the Organic Transition Initiative launched as part of the USDA’s food system transformation. 

Over five years, TOPP is investing up to $100 million in cooperative agreements with nonprofit organizations that will partner with others to provide technical assistance and wraparound support to transitioning farmers.  

“The organic community is known for strong local collaboration and providing farmer-to-farmer support,” USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt said. “TOPP will build on this spirit while bringing organic to new communities of farmers and consumers.” 

Michigan State University’s Organic Farmer Training Program Organic Farmer Training Program offers an immersive, hands-on farming experience that teaches participants sustainable practices and gives visionaries a plan for their future organic farming business. The program’s educational programs manager, Katie Brandt, said that the transition to organics occurs for several reasons.  

“On the farmers’ side, some farmers are looking at organic to save the family farm in light of the long-term farming crisis,” she said. “As younger generations take over the millions of acres transitioning from the older-generation farmers, sometimes they want to shift to more sustainable practices, whether certified organics, conservation tillage, regenerative practices or rotational grazing.”  

Other times, the transition to organic farming is economical.  

“The transition period of three years can be hard for a farm because you’re doing new practices, getting new equipment and sourcing new supplies, but you’re not getting the benefit of higher prices for your goods,” Brandt said. “However, after those three years, farmers see profitability improve.”  

In addition, environmental concerns such as water quality, climate and human health can attract farmers to organic agriculture. 


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