Certified organic production is no longer a blip on the radar of U.S. agriculture. Last year saw a total of 12,818 certified organic farms in the U.S. sell $6.2 billion in organic products. That’s a 13% gain over 2014 sales, according to the USDA-NASS 2015 Certified Organic Survey.
Livestock and poultry products (milk, eggs, etc.) led the way with $1.9 billion in sales in 2015, but the certified organic portfolio is a diverse one. Other major contributors include vegetables ($1.4 billion), fruits/trees/nuts/berries ($1.2 billion), livestock and poultry ($743 million) and field crops ($660 million).
Some product sales were down slightly, including organic lettuce, which dropped 1% from 2014. Others, such as apples (up 20%) and eggs (up 74.5%) more than made up the difference.
Certified organic farms also sell to a diverse set of customers. Of those surveyed, 71% say they sell to wholesale markets (buyers, processors, distributors, etc.), 36% sell directly to consumers and 22% sell directly to retail markets.
Depending on how you define “local,” these sales made up the bulk of certified organic sales, with about 75% of sales occurring within 100 miles of the farm.
The 10 states with the highest certified organic sales include:
6. New York
According to USDA, “certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives … Produce can be called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.”
USDA and NASS note the certified organic industry is poised for additional growth, as existing producers transition another 151,000 acres into organic production.
“The 2015 Certified Organic Survey data will serve as a valuable resource as the agriculture industry continues to look for ways to meet agricultural challenges and consumer needs in the 21st century,” according to NASS administrator Hubert Hamer.
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