USDA releases results from 2014 Organic Production Survey

September 18, 2015 - The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) has released findings from its 2014 Organic Production Survey, a survey of all known organic producers in the U.S. as part of the Census of Agriculture program. The results provide valuable information on organic farms, sales, and practices.

The results show that in 2014 there were 14,093 organic farms producing on 3.7 million acres. This important sector of the agricultural market has grown from $3.2 billion in 2008 to $5.5 billion in 2014, demonstrating that there is increased demand for organic products and opportunities for growth. Paul Wolf from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition stated, “We are especially pleased to see that sales from the organic sector have increased significantly over the past five years. This clearly demonstrates opportunities for continued growth for farmers who wish to expand or transition into organic production.” Although there was a slight decline in the number of organic farms from 2008 to 2014, there are 1,365 farms currently transitioning to organic production. These transitioning farms will provide 122,175 additional organic acres in the U.S. and help meet the growing demand for organic products.

The five most valuable organic products identified in order of highest sales were milk, eggs, broiler chickens, lettuce, and apples. The vegetable and fruit sectors have increased in their importance to the organic sector as a whole, making up 42 percent of organic sales in 2014.

Organic farming is concentrated in certain regions and states, with California being the leader with 2,805 organic farms in 2014. There are also large numbers of farms in northwestern, north central, and northeastern states (Figure 1).

A high percentage of organic farms used production practices with environmental benefits such as water management practices, no-till or minimum tillage, habitat maintenance for beneficial insects and vertebrates, and biological pest control. For example, 41 percent of growers report using no-till or minimum tillage in their production systems. These ecologically protective practices contribute to enhanced ecosystem services and benefit water quality, soil health, and biodiversity.

The full survey results are available here and offer important insights into trends and opportunities for growth in organic agriculture. 

Joanna Ory - OFRF