Immense demand for organic produce is a huge opportunity for Georgia’s farmers, but despite exponential growth in the organic market, small and mid-scale specialty crop producers in Georgia face significant barriers to access this lucrative market. The South—and Georgia in particular—is uniquely positioned to benefit from the growing demand for organic food.
In 2014, Georgia Organics teamed up with the the Georgia Department of Agriculture for the 100 Organic Farms Campaign to remove the financial barrier to USDA Organic Certification by reimbursing the full cost of organic certification up to $1,000 for farmers pursuing it for the first time.
This partnership helped boost the number of Certified Organic farms in Georgia by 36 percent, surpassing 100 Certified Organic farms in the state by 2016! Now, we’re keeping the party going in continued partnership with GDA for the 200 Organic Farms Campaign.
Farmers are still eligible for cost reimbursement. Additionally, farmers who sign up will also have access to training and marketing assistance. The new goal? To reach the USDA recognized milestone of 200 Certified Organic Farms by 2018.
The outlook for organic production and consumption in the United States is bright. Nationwide sales of organic products jumped to $43 billion in 2015, and have been steadily increasing year after year, according to the Organic Trade Association. Specialty crops led this sector in sales, accounting for 43 percent of total organic sales in 2012. Despite these robust national trends, Georgia has only approximately 103 producers and 5,000 acres that are certified organic.
Whole Foods Market, Southern Region, whose regional headquarters and distribution center are based in Georgia, saw increased sales of organic products by more than 125 percent at its Southern stores over the past five years. During the same time period, sales of organic produce at Whole Foods stores in Georgia increased over 215 percent, demonstrating that the state is leading the South in organic specialty crop demand.
Demand for organic products is outpacing organic farmland and infrastructure. Despite exponential growth in the demand for organic products in the United States, small and mid-scale specialty crop producers in Georgia face significant barriers to gaining access to this lucrative market. The South—and Georgia in particular—is uniquely positioned to benefit from the growing demand for organic food.
Training & Technical Assistance
Through a grant from the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Organics will offer the following workshops in 2015 (and they’ll all be recorded so producers can access them online):
1. Why I’m Certified: The Advantages of Going Organic, a Farmer’s Perspective.
2. The Organic Marketplace in Georgia.
3. Working with Distributors and Institutional Buyers.
4. Crop Rotation for Specialty Crop Producers.
5. Business Training and Financial Record Keeping for Farmers.
6. Going Organic: A Step by Step Overview of the Organic Certification Process.
Certification Cost Share
The 200 Organic Farms Campaign removes the financial barrier to USDA Organic Certification by reimbursing the full cost of organic certification up to $1,000 for farmers pursuing it for the first time. The Georgia Department of Agriculture will fund 75 percent (up to $750) and Georgia Organics will provide the remaining 25 percent (up to $250).
Georgia Organics will offer farmers becoming certified organic for the first time an opportunity to receive free marketing consultation with experts in the field in developing priority marketing plans. In addition, farmers will be eligible to receive marketing materials to help promote their organic operations.
To join the campaign, fill out this short form and we’ll send you more information about reimbursement and educational opportunities.