Santa Cruz, CA - CCOF, one of North America’s oldest and largest organic certifiers, this month surpassed a half million organic acres in its certification program. This is a major milestone for the organization that was started in 1973 by a small group of organic farmers.
CCOF experienced a 129% growth in certified organic acreage over the last two years, along with a phenomenal 141,317 acre increase in 2007, representing a 40.7% single-year acreage growth. CCOF’s 501,066 organic acres is split roughly evenly between livestock and produce operations. Certified pasture and field acreage has risen from just 38,611 in 2004 to 241,511, reflecting the growth in the organic dairy and livestock sector. CCOF now has 62 certified members producing milk. The main areas of growth in crops have been oats, rice, wine and table grapes, wheat, and alfalfa. Certified organic oat acreage increased by 51.6% in 2007, rice acreage by 49.3%, and table grape acreage by 39.3%.
Another interesting trend is the number of small to medium sized growers who are expanding their operations to include post-harvest activities, such as organic processing, handling or packaging, as means of adding value to their produce. “Much of our current growth is attributed to existing members adding acreage, facilities and products”, states Peggy Miars, CCOF Executive Director. “We’re excited that many CCOF members are experiencing growth and progress, and we support their continued success.”
In 2007, CCOF completed more than 2,300 on-site inspections of land and facilities to ensure their compliance with the standards of the National Organic Program. “That means we are overseeing on average 10 inspections per work day”, says Jake Lewin, Certification Services Director. “It’s evidence of the dedication and commitment of our staff to serve and support the efforts of our clients out there in the fields, growing the organic market.”