Since the first organic survey in 2008, the number of organic farms, the acres used for organic production, and the value of organic products sold has all increased, more than tripling by 2019. Last year’s full data is not yet out but I suspect it will be higher. There is some debate however as higher food inflation and COVID-related dislocation in the supply chain along with all of the restaurant closures might have negatively impacted the space in 2020 and early-2021. The USDA’s NASS Organic Survey from the year before, however, showed organic product sales topped $9.93 billion an increase of $2.37 billion +31% from 2016. Also, it was reported that there were 16,585 certified organic farms +17% increase from 2016, which accounted for 5.50 million certified acres +9% over 2016. Organic farmers are still relatively small producers but the top 18% or so are responsible for a combined total of $8.4 billion in sales even though the average organic farm size hasn’t moved much recently at 333 acres, about -110 acres smaller than the average U.S. farm at 444 acres.
Not surprisingly, California continues to lead the nation in certified organic sales with $3.60 billion, 36% of the U.S. total and four times that of any other state. It also led all states with 3,012 certified farms and 965,257 certified acres. Rounding out the top five states are Washington with $886 million, Pennsylvania at $742 million, Oregon with $454 million, and Texas at $424 million. Taking a look at a few of the driving forces in organics, livestock and poultry products saw sales of $2.48 billion, up +12%, milk revenues hit $1.59 billion, up +14%, and vegetables: $2.08 billion, up +27%. From a percentage growth perspective, organic corn for grain led the way up +70%. I’m told sales went through a number of channels in the sector and according to the latest marketing practices, $2.04 billion of products were sold directly to retail markets, institutions, and local/regional food hubs, with another $300 million being sold directly to consumers at farmers markets, on-farm stores and stands, roadside stands or stores, u-pick, community-supported agriculture farms, as well as online markets.
Looking ahead, organic producers were asked about future production plans, with 29% saying they intend to increase their level of organic production next year. The data also showed that more than +1,800 certified organic farms have +255,000 additional acres in the three-year transition period required for land to become certified as organic, with an additional +710 farms not currently certified reported +61,000 acres of land transitioning to organic production.
Our team talks to a number of subscribers regularly who are seeing very strong premiums in this space, and from what we are seeing the infrastructure continues to gain more traction and is attracting a lot more big money. If you are interested in more organic farming data, you can see the entire NASS report HERE, you’ll find data on not only Farms, Land, and Value of Sales on Certified Organic Farms last year, but also the value of certified organic field crops and harvested hay sales, along with a ton more information. (nass,usda.gov, drgnews)