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November 2015 Newsletter



Hort Americas Corporate Newsletter  |  November 2015



Although greenhouse and controlled environment agriculture growers may be exempt from implementing Food Safety Modernization Act rules, produce buyers may make compliance mandatory.

Food Safety Modernization Act could impact growers exempt from the new federal rules

On Nov. 13, 2015, U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized three rules of the Food Safety Modernization Act. The purpose of FSMA, according to a FDA press release is to prevent foodborne illness “that, for the first time, establish enforceable safety standards for produce farms and makes importers accountable for verifying that imported food meets U.S. safety standards.” FDA said FSMA’s “final rules will help produce farmers and food importers take steps to prevent problems before they occur.”

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Coir substrates

Coir is a natural, renewable resource produced from mature coconut husks. Coir fiber is a coarse material obtained from the husk surrounding the coconut seed.
RIOCOCO coir is lightweight and can be compressed into a variety of shapes. It decomposes slowly due to its high lignin content. It is uniform and consistent because of the production process that uses various sieving systems and mixes different particle grades.
RIOCOCO offers a variety of coir products that can be used for the propagation and production of ornamental and vegetable crops in greenhouses and in the field. Available from Hort Americas, growers can choose from a variety of coir products, including grow bags, propagation blocks, discs and chips.

U.S. organic farm sales up 72%

The results of the 2014 Organic Survey released by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service showed that 14,093 organic farms in the United States sold $5.5 billion of organic products in 2014. This is a 72 percent increase since 2008. The total number of organic farms was fewer than in 2008, when a similar survey identified 14,540 farms. The 2014 Organic Survey follows the 2012 Census of Agriculture, which reported that total organic product sales by farms in the United States increased 83 percent between 2007 and 2012.

California and Wisconsin are the only states with more than a thousand organic farms. Large numbers of organic farms are also found in northwestern, north central and northeastern states. Southeastern states have fewer organic farms. The total number of organic farms was fewer than in 2008, when a similar survey identified 14,540 such farms.

Sales of organic lettuce accounted for $264 million ranking it as the number 4 commodity, behind milk ($1.08 billion), eggs ($420 million) and broiler chickens ($372 million). Vegetables grown under protected production accounted for $76 million in sales.

In 2014, 80 percent of the organic products were sold within less than 500 miles from their production site. This compares to 74 percent in 2008. In 2014, 46 percent were sold within 100 miles and 34 percent were sold within 101-499 miles.

Of the total sales, 78 percent went to wholesale markets, including buyers for supermarkets, processors, distributors, packers and cooperatives. Sixty percent of organic growers sold  products to wholesale markets.

The two largest expenses for organic production were for hired labor and feed, which together were 46 percent of production expenses.