WASHINGTON – The number of certified organic operations in the United States climbed to 24,650 in 2016, up 13 percent from the end of 2015, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service of the US Dept. of Agriculture. At 13 percent, the rate of growth in 2016 represents the highest year-over-year growth rate since 2008. The USDA began tracking the number of certified operations in 2002.

Organic certification is an “opt-in” voluntary standard that is managed through a public-private partnership. The USDA accredits and oversees approximately 80 businesses and state governments that directly certify organic farms and businesses.

The USDA said it provides a range of educational resources to help organic producers access the growing market, including interactive videos that help candidate farmers understand how to get and maintain organic certification, and fact sheets that explain the value proposition of organic certification and outline the standards in clear ways.

The complete list of certified organic farms and businesses is available through the Organic Integrity Database of certified operations, which is maintained by USDA-accredited certifying agents. Introduced in 2015, the database discourages fraud by providing more accurate and timely information about operations certified to use the USDA organic seal, according to the USDA The database also supports supply chain connections between buyers and sellers of organic goods.