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Posted: December 12, 2016 10:35 a.m.

Georgia sees historic growth of organic farms with ground-breaking partnership

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Bright Spot Information

In the winter of 2015, Georgia Organics and the Georgia Dept. of Agriculture launched the 100 Organic Farms Campaign, a state-wide collaboration to grow Georgia’s organic industry from 75 certified organic farms to more than 100 certified organic farms by the end of 2016.

Georgia surpassed that goal in the Spring of 2016 and will end the year with a 45 percent increase, bringing the new number of certified organic farm and livestock operations to 110.

After achieving this historic milestone, Georgia Organics and the Dept. of Agriculture are kicking off the 200 Organic Farms Campaign to further support farmers pursuing organic certification and boosting the ever-growing organic industry.

Agriculture is Georgia’s top industry, and as organic product sales continue to grow, the state’s farmers stand to benefit in a big way.

“Organic agriculture is entering a new phase of growth in Georgia, which is now competing squarely with other southeastern states on the number of organic operations,” said Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. “With growth like this we can say we are proud of what our organic community has accomplished and excited about economic opportunities that will benefit urban and rural areas of the state.”

With $43.3 billion in total organic product sales, the industry saw its largest dollar gain ever, adding $4.2 billion in sales in 2015, up from the $3.9 billion recorded in 2014. For the fourth year running, the industry saw growth in the double digits at 10.8 percent. To-date, the industry has shown continuous and steady gains since the economic downturn of 2009 with a growth rate well beyond that of the overall food market at 3.3 percent in 2015.

That’s why Georgia Organics and the Georgia Department of Agriculture are launching a historic partnership to help more farmers take advantage of the rapidly growing organic market by providing funding and training for farmers who want to become USDA Certified Organic.

“Georgia can become a major player in the organic sector, but we have to help farmers overcome barriers,” said Georgia Organics Executive Director Alice Rolls.  “This partnership with the Georgia Department of Agriculture is ultimately designed to put more Georgia Grown organic food on Georgia tables and help farmers thrive."

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).

In addition to financial reimbursement, farmers who participate in the 200 Organic Farms campaign will also receive marketing assistance and access to workshops and online resources covering topics like business training, working with distributors and institutional buyers, and guidance on the certification process.

Growers interested in signing up for the campaign can find more information at www.georgiaorganics.org/100organicfarms.

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