As of the end of 2011, about 17’600 organic farms and processing facilities in the United States were certified to the USDA organic standards, which is almost 480 more operators than at the end of 2010 – a 240 percent increase since 2002 when the National Organic Program effectively began its oversight role. Worldwide, there are now 28’779 certified organic operators across 133 countries. (See a fact sheet that shows growth in U.S. operations over time and a map showing the current distribution of operations by state).
By accessing the list, users can filter information according to specific search fields such as certification scope (crop, livestock, handling …), type of product, and the state in which an operation is located. Using the database, interested buyers can seek out producers and handlers of specific organic commodities to assist with their purchasing decisions.
The updated list of certified organic operations marks the third year in which the National Organic Program has made such a tool available.
Currently, the list of certified operations is updated annually. The National Organic Program is working to design a more advanced system that can be easily updated more often. The ultimate goal is a real time system of standardized information that can more easily identify and connect organic stakeholders across the supply chain, support real-time transparency of the organic system, and streamline current information management and reporting processes for USDA certifying agents.
The most recently updated list of certified operations features one notable change resulting from the U.S. and Canadian organic equivalency arrangement. Since products certified by one country may be sold as organic in the other, Canadian operations no longer need to maintain certification to the USDA organic standards to sell organic products in the United States. Therefore Canadian operations are no longer included in the list.
The National Organic Program is responsible for overseeing accrediting certifying agents and their certification of organic production and handling operations. Certification allows a farm or processing facility to sell, label, and represent their products as USDA organic. Any organic operation in violation of the USDA organic regulations is subject to enforcement actions, which can include financial penalties or suspension or revocation of their organic certificate. The program receives information about certified operations from each of the accredited certifying agents and updates the list annually.