California Certified Organic Farmers

Photo courtesy of the California Certified Organic Farmers organization website.

California is the road map to organic living. Surging consumer demand for organic foods has created an opportunity for California to expand organic food production and reap a multitude of economic, environmental, and public health benefits.

That is the finding of a comprehensive report released by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) at its annual conference in Fresno on February 27. The report, titled “Roadmap to an Organic California: Benefits Report,” distills the findings of more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific studies to document a wide-ranging inventory of benefits that an expansion of organic farming could bring to California.

Based on the report’s findings, the organization calls upon state and local policymakers, community leaders, and non-profit organizations to help put California on a path to increase the acreage of organic food production from 4 percent of the state’s farmland today to 10 percent by 2030.

The organic foods industry has experienced phenomenal growth in recent years, climbing from U.S. sales of less than $4 billion in 1997 to more than $50 billion today. Sales of organic products are growing at a rate six times greater than the overall growth in food sales.

In California alone, sales of organic commodities and processed foods totaled $14.55 billion in 2017. California produces 38 percent of the country’s organic farmgate value.

Research shows that more than 80 percent of U.S. households purchase at least some organic foods, and they are now on the shelves of nearly every major food retailer. Demographic trends indicate sustained growth lies ahead, as market research shows that organic products are most in demand among young adults of the Millennial generation.

The report presents scientific evidence that shows organic farming to be a practical tool for reducing poverty, stimulating local economies, protecting and enhancing public health, and ensuring a food secure future. It shows that it is time for all communities to have access to organic food and for all of California to benefit from organic agriculture.

California, already the national leader accounting for more than a third of all organic food sales in the nation, is uniquely poised to benefit from this strong trend in consumer demand. Not only does California have a robust foundation from which to build, it is the only state with its own program to support the USDA’s National Organic Program, which sets the standards for organic production that ensure consumer confidence in the organic label.

“Representing a district with so much organic produce has given me the opportunity to see the benefits of organic farming first hand,” said Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Santa Cruz).  “Since California is the largest producer of organic foods, it is important to understand the economic, public health, and environmental benefits of organic farming. I hope California can utilize this report to encourage this organic farming trend.  Not only does the market for organic produce keep growing, the environmental and consumer benefits of organic farming equal healthier soil and waterways and healthier produce.”

The report details a variety of benefits that organic production is generating – and could generate on a far larger scale.

For more information about CCOF, visit www.ccof.org.

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