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Organic agriculture in North America 2009

Current statistics

In North America, almost 2.2 million hectares are managed organically, representing approximately a 0.6 percent share of the total agricultural area.

Currently, the number of farms is 12'064.

The major part of the organic land is in the US with 1.6 million hectares in 2005. New data are expected to be published early summer 2009 by the USDA.

Seven percent of the world’s organic agricultural land is in North America.

Market

Valued at more than 20 billion US Dollars in 2007 (Organic Monitor), the North American market accounted for 45 percent of global revenues. Growing consumer demand for healthy & nutritious foods and increasing distribution in conventional grocery channels are the major drivers of market growth. The U.S. organic industry grew 21 percent in sales in 2006, and was forecast to experience 18 percent sales growth each year on average from 2007 through 2010. Whether this rate will actually be realized is uncertain due to the economic downturn and reduction in consumer spending in the last quarter of 2008.

Likewise, a downturn is expected in Canada, even though the market growth in Canada, paired with the introduction of the new organic regulations, should provide a good outlook over the coming years.

Policy support

In 2008, the new Farm Bill was passed by the US Congress. Increasing expenditures on organic agriculture and programs to approximately 112 million US Dollars over the course of its five-year life, the 2008 Farm Bill provides a five-fold increase for the organic sector compared with federal funding in the previous bill.

Standards and legislation

In the United States, the National Organic Program has been in force since 2002.

Canada has had a strong organic standard since 1999; this had been, however, voluntary and not supported by regulation. Canada’s Organic Product Regulation will be fully implemented on June 30, 2009. Canadian labeling requirements will very similar to those of the US and the EU.

Further reading / Source

The World of Organic Agriculture 2009