Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 June 2015
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the formation of hotspots of organic operations (geographically close areas that have positively correlated high numbers of organic operations), paying particular attention to the role of the organic certifying agent. We analyze the association of county-level factors related to policy, economics, demographics and organic certifiers with the probability that a county is in a hotspot or coldspot (geographically close areas that have positively correlated low numbers of organic operations) of organic operations. The results suggest that a high presence of government run organic certifying agents, as well as a high presence of private organic certifying agents who provide outreach services, are both positively associated with the probability that a county belongs to a hotspot. Other factors, such as the level of property taxes and the distance of the county from the nearest interstate, are also significantly correlated with the probability that a county is in a hotspot. Understanding factors associated with organic hotspots is important given the surge in momentum in the organic industry and the concerns that demand for organic products may be outpacing domestic supply. In particular, understanding the role that certifiers play in the formation of organic hotspots is important, as certain services provided by certifiers may be indicative of the level of communication between organic operations and their communities. The results of this paper may encourage public institutions that approve and regulate organic certifiers to provide incentives for offering outreach services, and private institutions interested in promoting organic operations to work more closely with certifying agents as a means to boost organic hotspots.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.