Organic farming is different than conventional farming because crops that are grown organically are less forced into development of growth, which means that the time it takes for the crop to develop is generally slower resulting in better quality. Organic farming uses a natural source of pesticides that does not pollute the environment. It also keeps the ecosystem and biodiversity in balance. Animals that are raised in organic farms are not exposed veterinary drugs as antibiotics and hormones that enhance the growth of the animal. Generally it is considered important to treat animals well. Proponents of organic agriculture point to the environmental benefits of not using these often persistent and toxic chemicals. Organic farming also promotes greater biodiversity on farms, as the lack of poison allows species other than those being cultivated to inhabit the farms.
Specifications for what may be classified as "organic" food may vary by location. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance the quality of the environment. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides, fertilizers, bioengineering, and ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled ‘organic’, a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it reaches supermarkets and restaurants must be certified as well.
The recent interest in the organic industry has sparked the interest of many businesses from small local distributors to large companies that distribute many products nationally. The organic market is now a 14 billion dollar a year industry, that continues to grow especially from large corporations such as Wal-Mart that are now offering organic choices to their customers.
Sales of organic products are steadily increasing, and so is organic production in low and middle income countries. For good reason: for farmers it is an opportunity to increase their income and manage their land in a more sustainable way. Getting the produce from the field to the market requires a certain level of organisation, management and finance; a well-functioning organic business. Whether set up in the form of a producer cooperative or a private company, the organic business needs to be efficient, well structured and profitable.