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U.S.: Organic data for 2006 to 2008 released by the Economic Research Service

On March 30, consolidated data on organic land, land use and crops as well as the number of producers were published. According to these figure 4.8 million acres or 1.9 million hectares (0.6 percent of the U.S. organic farmland) were organically managed in 2008.


According to the Economic Research Service ERS of the United States Department of Agriculture USDA, organic farming has been one of the fastest growing segments of U.S. agriculture for over a decade. The U.S. had under a million acres of certified organic farmland when Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. By the time USDA implemented national organic standards in 2002, certified organic farmland had doubled, and doubled again between 2002 and 2005. Organic livestock sectors have grown even faster. 

U.S. producers dedicated approximately 4.8 million acres of farmland —2.7 million acres of cropland and 2.1 million acres of rangeland and pasture— to organic production systems in 2008. California remains the leading State in certified organic cropland, with over 430,000 acres, largely (over 40 percent) used for fruit and vegetable production. Other top States for certified organic cropland include Wisconsin, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana. Forty-five States also had some certified organic rangeland and pasture in 2008, and 13 States had more than 100,000 acres, reflecting strong growth in the U.S. organic dairy sector between 2005 and 2008.

Overall, certified organic cropland and pasture accounted for about 0.6 percent of U.S. total farmland in 2008. Only a small percentage of the top U.S. field crops —corn (0.2 percent), soybeans (0.2 percent), and wheat (0.7 percent)— were grown under certified organic farming systems. On the other hand, organic carrots (25 percent of U.S. carrot acreage), organic lettuce (8 percent), organic apples (5 percent) and other fruit and vegetable crops were more commonly organic grown in 2008. Markets for organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs have been developing for decades in the United States, and fresh produce is still the top-selling organic category in retail sales. Organic livestock was beginning to catch up with produce in 2008, with 2.7 percent of U.S. dairy cows and 1.5 percent of the layer hens managed under certified organic systems.

Source: ERS/USDA

Editor's note

It should be noted that the 2008 figures for the United States as published in the 2010 edition of the World of Organic Agriculture differ from the consolidated figures as published now by the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. The figures that were available at the time of publication of the yearbook were provisional (at that time 4.5 million acres were communicated). The full data with conversion into hectares will be made available at this website.

A note on the census data for 2008 of the National Agricultural Statistics Service NASS

In the framework of the 2007 agricultural survey, for the first time organic data were collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service NASS. These data were released early February 2010. According to this census, 4.1 million acres were managed organically in 2008. The difference with the ERS data may be explained by the fact that only farms over a certain size were included.

More information

United States of America at Organic-World.net


Catherine Greene
Economic Research Service
1800 M Street NW
20036-5831, Washington, DC
Tel. +1 202-694-5110

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