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Organic Farmland Expanding Worldwide

The global area farmed organically has expanded by 300 percent since 1999, but the United States lags behind the curve.

  • Patchwork of colorful farmland, viewed from the sky.

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    About 1.48 million hectares of American farmland are devoted to growing crops and raising livestock organically.

The total area of certified organic farmland worldwide has expanded by more than 300 percent since 1999, according to a new report by the Worldwatch Institute.

This amounts to nearly 1 percent of the total global acreage devoted to agriculture.

A Growing Movement

In 2009, 74 countries had implemented organic regulations. By the following year, that number had increased to 84.

Currently, the regions with the most certified organic agricultural land are Oceania with 12.1 million hectares, Europe with 10 million hectares, and Latin America with 8.4 million hectares.

A Lagging United States

The United States lags behind other regions in terms of developing organic farmland.

In October 2012, the USDA reported that “at least” 3.65 million acres (or about 1.48 million hectares) of American farmland were devoted to raising organic livestock and crops.

One Of The Country’s Fastest-Growing Sectors

Still, retail sales of organic foods totaled $28.6 billion in 2010. And, according to the USDA, organics are gaining market share in the food industry, accounting for 4.2 percent of US food sales in 2011.

“There definitely [is] much interest from consumers, and the demand is there,” said Barbara Haumann, spokeswoman for the Organic Trade association, in Bloomberg Businessweek. “We need more organic farmers.”

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Sarah Gordon

Sarah Gordon has been interested in food ethics since she was 15, learned about industrial slaughter, and launched into 10 years of vegetarianism. These days, she strives to be a conscientious omnivore. Now a PhD candidate in folklore, her research has caused her to spend a lot of time in the remote Canadian sub-arctic, where the lake trout (sustainably harvested) tastes amazing.

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