Sales of organic products from U.S. farms have increased substantially, jumping 72 percent to $5.45 billion from $3.16 billion since the federal government last conducted a comparable survey in 2008.
Although the value of sales have increased, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported last week that both the number of organic farms and the amount of organic acreage has dropped.
NASS reported 14,093 organic farms, 447 fewer than in 2008, and 3.67 million acres, almost 407,000 less. The service attributed the decline, at least in part, to differences in the survey methodology.
Ten states represented 78 percent of organic sales, according to the survey.
Farms in California claimed $2.2 billion in sales, 41 percent of total national sales. It led the nation in number of organic operations, at 2,805, and in acreage, more than 687,000 acres.
Washington state posted the second-highest sales at $515 million, up from $282 million in 2008. Oregon came in fourth at $237 million, up from $156 million.
Nationwide, crops accounted for $3.3 billion in sales, led by lettuce at $264 million, apples at $250 million, grapes at $195 million, and corn for grain at $155 million.
Livestock and poultry products accounted for $1.5 billion in sales, with milk in the top spot at almost $1.1 billion in sales. Livestock and poultry sales, at $660 million, were led by broilers at $372 million.
Nationwide, 78 percent of product was sold to wholesale markets, 14 percent directly to retail and 8 percent directly to consumers.
While the majority of product was sold wholesale, 40 to 60 percent of farms in Washington, Oregon and Idaho sold some product directly to consumers, as did 20 to 40 percent in California and 45 percent nationwide.
Total production expenses increased from $2.5 billion in 2008 to almost $4 billion in 2014, with feed and hired labor combined comprising 46 percent of expenses. Nationwide average per-farm expenses increased from $171,978 in 2008 to $208,722 in 2014. Expenses were significantly higher in California at $616,379 and Washington at $485,708.
The survey shows 1,365 farms are transitioning an additional 122,175 acres to organic production. Nearly 5,300 organic farms, 39 percent, intend to increase organic production over the next five years, 43 percent intend to maintain production and 5 percent intend to decrease or discontinue organic production.
The 2014 organic survey offers nearly 600 pages of details on farm-level organic sales, farms and land in organic operation, crops and products being produced, how they are marketed, and producers’ age, years in organic, expenses, and practices.
Click to see the survey results and highlights