February 4, 2010
USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has released the first-ever in-depth survey of U.S. organic agriculture. A follow-on to the 2007 Census of Agriculture and funded through the Organic Production and Market Data Initiatives in the 2008 Farm Bill, the survey collected 2008 data from USDA-certified organic farmers, farmers transitioning to organic production, and farmers exempt from certification because of sales totaling less than $5,000. Information from farmers who followed National Organic Program standards, but were not certified or exempt, was not included in the report.
The survey counted 14,540 organics farms (3,637 of which were exempt) and ranches on 4.1 million acres. The survey collected information on organic sales by state and by category of product, production practices (primarily focused on conservation practices), production expenses, marketing outlets, and prodcuers’ 5-year plans. To access the full report and individual tables, click here.
Among the many interesting figures, the report has interesting stats on profitability of organic farms. In 2008, organic farms had average annual sales of $217,675 , compared to the $134,807 average for all U.S. farms (2007 Census of Agriculture). Figuring in production expenses (an average of $171,978 per farm for organics and a $109,359 average for all farms), the average organic farm is more profitable.
This report has been a long-time coming. The organic agriculture sector has experienced consistent growth in the past decade, and a comprehensive assessment and survey of the burgeoning sector was overdue.