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USDA organic crops:

New data shows no net growth 2008-11

Organic is often described as the "fastest growing segment of the food supply;" however, recent data fails to support that claim.

The USDA recently released its second major survey of the US organic farming industry with data from 2011. The obvious question was "what has changed in the three years since the last big survey in 2008?" The answers are somewhat surprising (see graph and description below):

Farms: The number of farms growing most organic crops has dropped by 20-30% for most crops (not graphed)

Acres: Although the crop mix has changed, the total acres of USDA organic crops is only slightly up for fruit and somewhat down for other categories (nuts, vegetables, row crops)

Yields: The average yields for organic crop categories other than nuts are slightly up

Production: The actual production of organic crops in pounds is down for all but fruits which are up slightly

Price: The price of organic crops has risen rather significantly for all but row crops

There was too much incomparable data between the two surveys for hay and silage crops, so the following analysis focuses on human-oriented crops like fruits, vegetables, nuts and row crops like cereals and oilseeds.

Why Fewer Farms?

The fact that farms and acres are down while yields are up for many crops suggests that there has been some shifting of production to the more successful operations. I plan to look at the state-by-state detail on this in the future.

Acreage Changes

The table below lists some of the organic crops that have seen the largest absolute or relative acreage increases in the last three years:

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