Timeline of Organic Milestones
USDAs Economic Research Service releases a major study on the status of organics in the United States showing that certified organic crop land more than doubled during the 1990s and that some organic livestock sectorseggs and dairygrew even faster.
USDA releases the second proposed National Organic Program (NOP). The Secretary of Agriculture announces other initiatives to stimulate the U.S. organic sector: organic research, pilot projects on crop insurance and marketing orders and market news reporting for organic fruits and vegetables.
Japan begins to develop a national standard for organic production.
Canada announces a voluntary national organic standard.
Codex Alimentarius, a joint commission of the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization of the United Nations, approves international guidelines for the production, processing, labeling and marketing of organic foods.
The United Kingdom (U.K.) doubles assistance for farmers converting to organic production by spring, part of a package to increase by £2 million ($1.2 million) annually funding for research and resources for advising farmers on the practicalities of conversion.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) receives $75,230 in Market Access Program funds to help exports of U.S. organic products.
USDA begins a voluntary, fee-based ISO-65 program for U.S. state and private organic certifiers. ISO-65 is an international standard pertaining to good business practices (e.g., documentation, record-keeping, application and evaluation processes, oversight and personnel) in any certification system.
Minnesota passes the Organic Agriculture Promotion and Education Act to encourage organic agriculture, the first U.S. legislation to authorize an organic certification cost-share program.
USDA permits certain meat and poultry products to carry the label "certified organic."
Although U.K. farmers convert over 20,000 hectares (49,400 acres) to organics, area still lags well below the amount needed to satisfy the countrys burgeoning demand.
Iowa passes the Organic Agricultural Products Act (replacing 1988 legislation), mandating a program to certify producers, handlers and processors of agricultural products labeled, sold or advertised as "organic."
USDA releases the first proposed NOP and receives a record 275,000 comments on numerous issues, including considerable opposition to the use of genetic engineering, irradiation and sewage sludge in organic production.
A USDA study indicates 1.13 million U.S. acres are devoted to certified organic production.
The U.S. state-regional trade groups sponsor the first U.S. trade mission of organic suppliers to Japan. The state-regionals sponsor missions to Japan each year thereafter, and add missions to Europe in 1999 and 2000.
Japan issues voluntary organic labeling guidelines.
The European Union adopts organic regulations.
Austria grants subsidies to encourage growers to convert to organic production; Austria also sets organic livestock standards, another first.
Organic retail sales reach $1 billion in the United States. U.S. Congress passes the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, requiring USDA to develop national standards and regulations for organically produced agricultural products.
Washington becomes the first state to develop organic standards and implement an organic certification program. Today, 13 states have such programs: Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington.
USDAs Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program is established, providing competitive grants to support sustainable and organic research.
The Organic Foods Production Association of North America, later the OTA, is established to represent North Americas growing organic sector.
Austria becomes the first country in the world to set official guidelines for organic farming.
California Certified Organic Farmers is founded, the first organization to certify organic farms in North America.