Record growth in organic farms, businesses

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The U.S. organic industry grew 245 percent since 2002, according to new USDA numbers. The industry now encompasses a record-breaking 18,513 certified organic farms and businesses, USDA officials say. In fact, an additional 763 producers became certified last year alone, an increase of 4.2 percent over 2012. 

“Consumer demand for organic products has grown exponentially over the past decade,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack notes. “With retail sales valued at $35 billion last year, the organic industry represents a tremendous economic opportunity for farmers, ranchers and rural communities.” 

According to just-updated USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), sales of organic milk represented 4.38 percent of all milk sales on a pound-for-pound basis in 2013, up from 1.92 percent in 2006. This percentage has grown fairly steadily since AMS began tracking it; though it did experience a contraction in 2009 during the country’s serious economic downturn, analysts note that the following two years featured double-digit growth for the category.

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