History of Organic Farming in the USA.

The history of organic farming in the USA is as long as when the American people realized there’s always a way to improve the arability of land through manure, compost, and any other organic feed in order to amass massive crop production and preservation of livestock. In case your thought is about how organic farming began in the United States of America, you have made just the right click!

Organic agricultural system, unlike its conventional counterpart, uses ecologically based pest controls and biological fertilizers derived largely from animal and plant wastes and nitrogen-fixing cover crops. Modern organic farming was developed as a response to the environmental harm caused by the use of chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in conventional agriculture, and it has numerous ecological benefits.

Organic farming is not only a very productive type of farming in the United States of America, but it is also a very useful agricultural practice that improves on the conditions of the land even as it enhances quick and bulky harvest of planted crops without much difference from the results that are got from conventional farming.

Organic farming unarguably reduces soil erosion, decreases nitrate leaching into groundwater and surface water, and recycles animal wastes back into the farm. Oftentimes and depending on the type of crop, organic farming yields higher crop production than conventional farming does in the US.

Aside the great benefits and the very reliable record of growth organic farming has given and imparted in the history of American agriculture, a quick peek into how it got started and has survived the climatic inconveniences of the American environment is not a bad idea!

History of Organic Farming in the USA.

Here are the delineated highlights of the history of organic farming in the USA:

1. Origin

Organic farms are self sufficient as most of the things that supply its nutrient and fertility to continue surviving are actually its animals and crops. These very economical ideas are developed by Sir Albert Howard, F.H. King, Rudolf Steiner, and others who believed that the use of animal manures (often made into compost), cover crops, crop rotation, and biologically based pest controls could result in a better farming system. The time of organic agriculture actually came to limelight was around the 1900s.

Although organic farming did not own its foundations to the above mentioned scholars originally, it was rather Howard, having worked in India as an agricultural researcher, who gained much inspiration from the traditional and sustainable farming practices he encountered in that part of the world and then advocated for their adoption in the West.

2. Other Eminent Adopters

Such practices were further promoted by various advocates—such as J.I. Rodale and his son Robert, in the 1940s and onward, who published Organic Gardening and Farming magazine and a number of texts on organic farming. The demand for organic food was stimulated in the 1960s by the publication of Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, which documented the extent of environmental damage caused by insecticides.

3. Sales of Organic Food: History

A movement grew to develop a national organic standard to help facilitate interstate marketing. In response, Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) in 1990 to develop a national standard for organic food and fiber production. OFPA mandated that USDA develop and write regulations to explain the law to producers, handlers and certifiers. OFPA also called for an advisory National Organic Standards Board to make recommendations regarding the substances that could be used in organic production and handling, and to help USDA write the regulations. After years of work, final rules were written and implemented in fall 2002.

Organic food sales then increased steadily from the late 20th century. Greater environmental awareness, coupled with concerns over the health impacts of pesticide residues and consumption of genetically modified (GMO) crops, fostered the growth of the organic sector. In the United States retail sales increased from $20.39 billion in 2008 to $47.9 billion in 2019, while sales in Europe reached more than $52 billion (€45 billion) in 2019.

4. Father of Modern Organic Farming

J.I Rodale, founder of the Rodale Research Institute and Organic Farming and Gardening magazine, is commonly regarded as the father of the modern organic farming movement. Beginning in the 1940s, Rodale provided the main source of information about “non-chemical” farming methods and was heavily influential in the development of organic production methods.

Rodale drew many of his ideas from Sir Albert Howard, a British scientist who spent years observing traditional systems in India. Howard advocated agricultural systems reliant upon returning crop residues, green manures and wastes to soil, and promoted the idea of working with nature by using deep-rooted crops to draw nutrients from the soil.

5. Growth of the Organic Industry

By the 1970s, increased environmental awareness and consumer demand fueled the growth of the organic industry. However, the new organic industry suffered growing pains. Although there was general agreement on philosophical approaches, no standards or regulations existed defining organic agriculture. The first certification programs were decentralized, meaning that each state or certifying agent could determine standards based on production practices and constraints in their region. An apple farmer in New York has very different challenges than an apple farmer in California, for example.

Standard Policies on Organic Production

Subsequent to the history of organic farming in the USA, some standard policies were created just to guide the production of both crop and livestock. Here are they:

1. Organic crop production standards
  • Land will have no prohibited substances applied to it for at least 3 years before the harvest of an organic crop. Use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation and sewage sludge is prohibited. Soil fertility and crop nutrients will be managed through tillage and cultivation practices, crop rotations, and cover crops, supplemented with animal and crop waste materials and allowed synthetic materials.
  • Preference will be given to the use of organic seeds and other planting stock.
  • Crop pests, weeds, and diseases will be controlled primarily through management practices including physical, mechanical, and biological controls. When these practices are not sufficient, a biological, botanical, or synthetic substance approved for use on the National List may be used.
2. The organic livestock standards
  • Animals for slaughter must be raised under organic management from the last third of gestation, or no later than the second day of life for poultry.
  • Producers are required to give livestock agricultural feed products that are 100 percent organic, but may also provide allowed vitamin and mineral supplements.
  • Organically raised animals may not be given hormones to promote growth, or antibiotics for any reason. Preventive management practices, including the use of vaccines, will be used to keep animals healthy.
  • Producers are prohibited from withholding treatment from a sick or injured animal; however, animals treated with a prohibited medication may not be sold as organic.
  • All organically raised animals must have access to the outdoors, including access to pasture for ruminants.

A civil penalty of up to $10,000 can be levied on any person who knowingly sells or labels as organic a product that is not produced and handled in accordance with the National Organic Program regulations.

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