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Organic Agriculture in North America - data 2017

Current status

North America’s organic agricultural land was 3.2 million hectares in 2017, which is 0.8 percent of the total agricultural area. The area under organic cultivation has trebled from the million hectares in 2000, and now represents five percent of the global organic agricultural land. Between 2016 and 2017, the area increased by almost 93’000 hectares or 3 percent. Almost 1.8 percent of the farmland in Canada is organic, and the proportion in the United States is 0.6 percent. There is a total of 19’017 producers in North America; most of them are in the United States (almost 75 percent).

Land use

Land use details were available for almost the whole of the organic agricultural land. In 2017, only two percent of all organic farmland was utilized for permanent crops (almost 104’000 hectares) while almost 44 percent was used to grow arable crops (over 1.4 million hectares), and 43 percent (over 1.4 million hectares) was grassland/grazing. The United States has the largest grassland/grazing area, almost 933’000 hectares, and Canada reported more than 468’000 hectares.
The key organic arable crop group is cereals, with almost 546’000 hectares, representing almost 39 percent of the region organic arable area, and 0.8 percent of the total cereal area in the region. In the United States, over 281’000 hectares of organic cereals were grown, and Canada reported almost 264’500 hectares. The key organic cereal in the region was wheat (more than 154’000 hectares), this represented 0.6 percent of the total wheat grown in the region. Organic vegetables were grown on 70’000 hectares in 2017, 7.5 percent of the total vegetables in the region, with leafy/stalked vegetables (nearly 25’000 hectares) and fruit vegetables (over 15’000 hectares) being the key produced vegetables.
The main organic permanent crops were temperate fruits (almost 13’000 hectares), grapes (almost 12’000 hectares), and nuts (almost 9’000 hectares). Organic temperate fruits represented 4.1 percent of the total temperate fruit area in the region. The key temperate fruits are apples, cherries, and peaches. The key organic berries are blueberries (over 6’000 hectares, 6.8 percent of the total blueberries grown in the region), and cranberries (647 hectares, 2.7 percent of the region’s cranberries).

Producers

In 2017, 19’017 organic producers were reported in North America. The United States is the country with the most organic producers, over 14’000, and Canada reported over 4’800 organic producers. Since 2004, when there were 11’000 organic producers, the number increased over 66 percent.

Wild collection

Unfortunately, for the United States data on organic wild collection is not available with the exception of over 300 of wild blueberries, so it can be assumed that the wild collection area is much bigger in the region than the current 83’832 hectares reported mainly by Canada. In Canada, there are almost 77’000 hectares of maple trees, a key commodity for the country.

Market

In 2017, the organic market continued to grow in North America, reaching 43 billion euros. In Canada, the organic market grew by over 9 percent in 2017, and in the United States, the organic market grew by 6 percent. The United States is the largest single organic market in the world, and North America continues to be the region with the largest organic market. In the United States, people spent 122 euros per capita on organic products in 2017, while in Canada the per capita consumption was 83 euros. For 2017, Canada reported an organic share of the total retail sales of 2.6 percent, and in the United States, an organic share 5.5 percent was noted.

Source: The World of Organic Agriculture 2019

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