New Survey Shows Growth in Organic


After compiling and analyzing data from 12,818 certified organic producers, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released the 2015 Certified Organic Survey. This survey collected information from certified organic producers to assess the amount of land under organic certification, the marketing practices of certified organic producers, and the sales of certified organic products.

The previous organic survey from 2014 included data from certified organic operations, those exempt from certification, and transitioning operations. The current 2015 survey only includes data from certified organic operations.  
Since organic production data was first collected by NASS, certified organic production has increased over 72 percent and become a multi-billion-dollar industry. According to the 2015 survey, the market value of certified organic agricultural product sold is $6.2B, a 700M increase over 2014.
Of the $6.2B in organic commodities, crop sales accounts for $3.5B, and $2.7B comes from organic livestock, poultry, and associated products. Top crops from 2015 include apples, lettuce, grapes, and spinach, which increased by 32%.  Apples increased by 20%, with organic fruit sales overall increasing by 17%. Top livestock products continue to be organic milk and eggs, which accounted for 31% of all certified organic sales. In the past year, certified organic egg production increased by a whopping 74%. 
California leads the nation in organic sales at $2.4B, which accounts for 40% of all organic sales. Ten states account for 78% of all certified organic sales including crop, livestock and livestock products.
Perhaps one of the most staggering statistics is the increase in certified organic land. Certified organic farms now operate on 4.4M acres of certified land. This is a major increase, up 20% from 2014. 
According to the survey, there are 151,000 acres that are in the process of transitioning to certified organic land. However, because this survey did not gather data from non-certified farmers, this number does not fully represent the total amount of acreage that is currently being transitioned to certified organic in the United States.
Because of the size and variety of organic farms, marketing practices of organic producers vary, with many taking advantage of multiple marketing channels. According to the data, certified organic farms and ranches reported selling 71% of their products to customers through wholesale marketing channels, with the first point of sale for 75% of all certified organic farms and ranches within 100 miles of the farm. Many producers also sold directly to consumers, retail markets, and institutions.
In the words of the USDA Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, “America’s organic industry is booming, creating important opportunities for farmers and ranchers and adding to the vibrancy of rural America.” The 2015 Certified Organic Survey is an important resource for the agricultural industry as farmers continues to meet agricultural challenges and consumer demands for organic products. 
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