Updated statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show the number of certified organic farms and processing facilities in the U.S. totaled 17,673 at the end of 2011, 478 or about 3% more than at the end of 2010. That total was up 240% since the National Organic Program began compiling statistics in 2002, according to a USDA news release.

Worldwide, the USDA said that there are 28,779 certified organic operators in 133 countries.

That represented a slight decrease in international operations because Canadian operations no longer need to maintain certification to USDA organic standards in order to sell organic products in the U.S. due to the U.S.-Canadian Organic Equivalency Arrangement.

Beginning June 1 this year, organic operations within the European Union will also covered under an equivalency agreement and will not have to by certified by USDA.

Barbara Haumann, spokeswoman for the Brattleboro, Vt.-based Organic Trade Association, said the equivalency agreements should make it easier and less expensive for U.S. and European organic exporters.

“It certainly cuts down duplication and cost for people who want to export on either side,” she said March 19.

A searchable database of all USDA certified organic operations is available online.