May 10, 2012 - Organic Farming - Small Beginning, Rapid Growth



From the Miami Herald, May 7, 2012

A recent USDA survey says 14,540 farms are USDA-certified organic or exempt from certification because sales are less than $5,000. The number has doubled at least twice since 1990.

There are 4.1 million acres of land in all 50 states in organic production, an increase from about 1 million acres in 1990. Organic acres account for about 1 percent of total agricultural land.

In 2008, nationwide sales volume of organic products reached $3.16 billion. Of which, $1.94 billion was spent on crops and $1.22 billion on livestock, poultry and their products.

Organic farms took in more sales revenue than conventional farms: an average of $217,675 vs. an average $134,807 for all farms. But they also spent more on production: $171,978 on organic farms, compared with $109,359 for all farms.

Organic farming is largely local, with about 44 percent of sales made within 100 miles of the farms. Just 7 percent were direct to consumers at farmers markets and other means. The rest went to wholesalers and retailers.

More than 78 percent of the farmers say they plan to continue organic farming and increase production in coming years.