US organic sales up to $7.6 billion

Pa. organic farms grow by 10 percent and are second in the nation in sales

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2016 certified organic survey results
The 2016 sales of U.S. certified organic agricultural production is up 23 percent over previous year. (Chris Kick photo)

SALEM, Ohio — Results of the 2016 Certified Organic Survey reveal U.S. farms produced and sold $7.6 billion in certified organic commodities, up 23 percent from $6.2 billion in 2015, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Also in 2016, the number of certified organic farms in the country increased 11 percent to 14,217, and the number of certified acres increased 15 percent to 5 million.

California, with $2.9 billion in certified organic sales, continues to lead the nation in certified sales, accounting for 38 percent of the U.S. total. It also had the largest share of certified organic acres and farms.

Keystone State

Pennsylvania organic growers were second in the nation in sales, selling $659.6 million in certified organic commodities in 2016, almost double the amount sold in 2015.

Three states had more than 1,000 certified organic farms: California, 2,713; Wisconsin, 1,276; and New York 1,059.

The number of certified organic farms in Pennsylvania increased 18 percent to 803 farms, making Pennsylvania fourth in the nation.

Certified acres in Pennsylvania increased 10 percent from 2015 to 93,418 acres and accounted for 8.7 percent of the U.S. organic sales in 2016.

The survey results show the following top commodity groups in organic sales for Pennsylvania in 2016:

• Livestock and poultry: $386.9 million, almost 3 times more

• Livestock and poultry products: $189.3 million, up 43 percent

• Mushrooms: $38.8 million, up 39 percent

• Vegetables and herbs: $25.5 million

Ohio

Ohio has 575 certified organic farms and 54,177 acres of cropland.

Ohio sold $41,858,748 in organic milk while Pennsylvania sold $68,894,692.

Pennsylvania harvested 1,105,981 bushels of certified organic corn, while Ohio harvested 971,459 bushels.

Survey expands

“The survey provides the only comprehensive source of national and state data on certified organic production. It was expanded in 2016 from previous years to include fresh and processed information separately for all fruit and berry crops, as well as to include grape data by variety,” said Hubert Hamer, NASS administrator.

Ten states accounted for 77 percent of U.S. certified organic sales, virtually the same share as in 2015 and 2014.

Crops accounted for 56 percent of the sale of certified organic production; livestock, poultry, and their products accounted for 44 percent.

Organic production encompasses a wide range of commodities, including livestock and poultry products (primarily milk and eggs), with 2016 sales of $2.2 billion; vegetables, $1.6 billion; fruits, tree nuts, and berries, $1.4 billion; livestock and poultry, $1.2 billion; and field crops, $763 million.

List toppers

The top commodities nationally in 2016 were:

• Milk: $1.4 billion, up 18 percent

• Eggs: $816 million, up 11 percent

• Broiler chickens: $750 million, up 78 percent

• Apples: $327 million, up 8 percent

• Lettuce: $277 million, up 6 percent

Other top organic crops were strawberries, grapes, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, hay, spinach, and mushrooms.

The survey is a census of all known U.S. farmers and ranchers with certified organic production in 2016. Producers must meet the standards set out by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Organic Program.

Standards for the program can be found at www.ams.usda.gov/nop. Additional results are available at www.nass.usda.gov/organics.

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Katy Mumaw is a graduate of Ohio State University where she studied agricultural communications and Oklahoma State University earning her master's in agricultural leadership. The former Farm and Dairy reporter enjoys family time and sharing the stories of agriculture.

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