Fewer than 1 percent of American farms are organic, and they have higher average sales and higher average production expenses than U.S. farms overall, according to results of the 2008 Organic Production Survey released this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service.
The survey counted 14,540 U.S. farms and ranches that were either USDA certified organic or were exempt from certification because their sales totaled less than $5,000. These operations comprised 4.1 million acres of land, of which 1.6 million acres were harvested cropland and 1.8 million acres were pasture or rangeland. While organic products have been one of the hottest growing areas in the supermarket, the USDA survey found that they were still a small enterprise in the farm belt. In its 2007 Census of Agriculture, the agency counted a total of 2.2 million U.S. farms of all types and sizes using 922 million acres of land.
Nationwide, 2008 organic sales totaled $3.16 billion, including $1.94 billion in crops sales and $1.22 billion in sales of livestock, poultry and their products.
Organic operations had an average of $217,675 in sales, compared with $134,807 for all farms as reported in the 2007 agriculture census. Production expenditures averaged $171,978 per organic farm, compared with the nationwide average of $109,359 for all farms.