USDA: Organic crop acreage surges, but economic factors slow growth

U.S. crop acreage under USDA-certified organic systems has grown since the National Organic Program was implemented in 2002, the USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) said on Thursday.

Organic crop acres increased from about 1.3 million in 2002 to almost 3.1 million in 2011. Part of this growth was in major field crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat.

Among these three crops, certified organic production of corn increased the most -- from about 96,000 acres in 2002 to 234,000 acres in 2011.

Certified organic soybean acreage peaked at 175,000 acres in 2001, before falling to 100,000 acres in 2007 and rebounding to 132,000 acres in 2011.

Wheat has the largest number of organic acres, starting at 225,000 acres in 2002 and peaking at more than 400,000 acres in 2008, before falling to 345,000 acres in 2011.

Much of the increased organic corn production has supported a rapid growth in the organic dairy sector.

Higher prices for conventional corn, soybeans and wheat since 2008, somewhat slower growth in demand for organic products due to the economic recession and increasing imports of these crops may have limited growth in organic field crop acreage in recent years.

The accompanying chart comes from the ERS report, "The Profit Potential of Certified Organic Field Crop Production, July 2015."

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U.S. Department of Agriculture

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