Jan 3, 2018Sales of organic agricultural products continue to increase
According to the Organic Trade Association, approximately 82 percent of U.S. households purchase organic food. In fact, the increase in sales from 2014 to 2015 was the largest on record at $4.2 billion. While organic acreage is less than 1 percent of total U.S. cropland, organic sales are nearly 5 percent of all food sales and continue to increase at a steady rate.
According to the USDA (2017), over 75 percent of the certified organic operations are concentrated in the West, Northeast, and Upper Midwest.
In terms of food purchased in the U.S., 8 percent of all dairy products and nearly 14 percent of all fruits and vegetables are organic and demand continues to increase. The 2017 Outlook for Organic Agriculture Forum forecasted growth for organic confectionary, sweet and savory snacks, ice cream and frozen desserts, baby food, soups and sauces, dressed and condiments.
At this point you may be wondering, “what defines an organic agricultural product”? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines organic agriculture as “an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.” While there are many different takes on organic production, in order to use the USDA Organic label, producers must comply with the national standards set by the National Organic Program. For more information on organic certification, the organic cost-share program or to view the organic program handbook, please visit the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service site here.
If you have questions about Organic Agriculture please visit the Michigan State University Organic site here, where you can access resources, learn about organic events and news, contact experts and sign-up for the MSU Organic Newsletter to stay informed. For information on transitioning to organic production, please consider perusing the Michigan State University Extension Bulletin 3067.
– Rob Sirrine, Michigan State University Extension