Certified organic survey shows continued U.S. growth

U.S. farm-gate sales of organic agricultural production continued to increase in 2016, with U.S. farms producing and selling $7.6 billion in certified organic commodities, according to the farmer-based 2016 Certified Organic Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released in September.

The 2016 Certified Organic Survey show that 2016 farm-gate sales were up 23 percent from $6.5 billion reported for 2015. During the same time, certified organic farms grew 11 percent to 14,217, with acreage increasing 15 percent to reach 5.0 million. These numbers, self-reported by farmers responding to the survey, are lower than the numbers released last December by NASS in a certified-based survey that tallied 14,861 U.S. organic farms in operation in 2015, with 5.3 million acres farmed organically. This may be because some farmers may not have responded to the latest survey.

Ten states accounted for 77 percent of U.S. certified organic sales of crops, livestock and livestock products in 2016. California was number one with $2.9 billion in sales followed by Pennsylvania ($660 million), Washington ($636 million), Oregon ($351 million), Texas ($297 million), Wisconsin ($255 million), New York ($216 million), Michigan ($201 million), Colorado ($181 million), and North Carolina ($145 million). The largest increases between 2015 and 2016 occurred in Pennsylvania (up 99 percent) and North Carolina (up 77 percent.).

Every state in the United States had certified organic farms and acreage in 2016, and three states—California, New York and Wisconsin—had more than 1,000 certified organic farms each. Other highlights:

 • U.S. certified organic farms operated over 5 million acres of certified land in 2016, up 15 percent from 2015. Approximately 54 percent of this certified farmland produced organic crops; the rest was pasture and rangeland.

 • While the grain and oilseed sector has historically lagged the produce, dairy and poultry sectors in adopting organic farming systems, certified acreage in this sector jumped more than the national average in 2016. Certified organic corn acreage increased 29 percent from the previous year and organic soybean acreage was up 31 percent.

 • The Southeastern United States has historically lagged other regions in organic production, and a state in this region—North Carolina—was among the top 10 states in organic sales for the first time in 2016.

The 2016 data, as well as results from previous organic surveys, are available in the NASS searchable database Quick Stats. //