New data released by the U.S. National Agricultural Statistics Service show certified organic crop and livestock production in the U.S. is expanding rapidly.
A survey of USDA-accredited organic certifying agents shows the number of certified operations climbed 12 per cent to 14,861 between 2014 and 2015. Acres reported under organic production surged 31 per cent to over 5.3 million acres and pasture and rangeland acres jumped 47 per cent to 2.16 million acres.
The NASS 2014 and 2015 Organic Certifier Survey includes data on certified crops and livestock operations. But it does not include data from organic handlers, processors, wild crops operations, or public land.
While still small in relation to commodity agriculture, with only one per cent of total U.S. farms, the sector punches above its weight in sales, producing nearly five per cent of all food sold in the U.S.
The crops seeing the highest growth included soybeans acres, up 39 per cent, corn rose by 25 per cent, wheat by 23 per cent and vegetables and horticulture by 26 per cent. A category listed as “other field crops” showed a 32 per cent increase.
Organic livestock numbers, mainly cattle and chickens, are up 36 per cent year over year. Cattle were up 43 per cent to 334,514 while chickens rose 35 per cent to 15.4 million.