Subcommittee Reviews Economic Impact of Organic Agriculture

Apr 18, 2007

WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Dennis Cardoza, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture, held a hearing to review the economic impacts of organic production, processing, and marketing of organic agricultural products.

Organic food is currently a $14 billion industry, accounting for about 2 percent of total retail food sales in the United States. That number is projected to grow to as much as $23.8 billion and 3.5 percent of the U.S. food market by 2010.

To meet USDA standards, organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products must come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic crops must be produced without using synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, sewage sludge, bioengineering or ionizing radiation.

"This is a historic hearing," said Subcommittee Chairman Cardoza.  "Today marks the first hearing ever in the House Committee on Agriculture dedicated to a substantial discussion of the challenges and opportunities facing organic agriculture.  It was clear from the testimony that, while organic agriculture is certainly flourishing, we must ensure a steadfast commitment to the integrity of the program.  I look forward to working with the organic community as we continue our work on the upcoming Farm Bill."

"The National Organic Program has proven to be a successful voluntary marketing program.  Through standards that all producers and processors follow and a certification and enforcement process, consumers know that when they purchase products with the USDA organic seal, they are purchasing food that has been grown or raised in a certain manner," said Subcommittee Ranking Member Randy Neugebauer.

Witness testimony is available on the Committee website. A full transcript of the hearing will be posted on the Committee website in 4-6 weeks.