Readings on this page are organized by topic:
Organic Production and Costs
Farm Activities Associated With Rural Development Initiatives—This report examines characteristics that may influence farm operator involvement in organic farming, value-added agriculture, direct marketing, agritourism, and energy/electricity production. ERS Research Report (5/12).
Organic Farming Systems Agricultural Resources and Environmental Indicators—The chapter on organic farming compares selected practices used on U.S. organic and conventional operations. ERS Economic Information Bulletin (8/12).
Characteristics of Conventional and Organic Apple Production in the United States—This report uses data from USDA’s 2007 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) and other sources to examine trends in the U.S. apple sector and compare production and marketing characteristics under organic and conventional farming systems. ERS Outlook Report (7/11).
Characteristics, Costs, and Issues for Organic Dairy Farming—This study examines the structure, costs, and challenges of organic milk production—including economies of size, regional differences, and pasture use—using USDA producer survey data. Economic Research Report (11/09).
U.S. Organic Farm Sector Continues to Expand—Organic agriculture is expanding rapidly in the United States, as consumer interest continues to gather momentum and new organic production and marketing systems evolve. This article looks at changes in organic crop acreage from 1997-2003. Amber Waves (3/06).
Risk and Risk Management In Organic Agriculture: View of Organic Farmers—Organic farmers from different regions of the United States identified a wide range of risks to their operations in a series of focus groups during 2001and 2002 facilitated by the University of Maryland in cooperation with USDA's Economic Research Service. Focus group participants saw contamination of organic production from genetically-modified organisms as a major risk. Participants who had used crop insurance, mostly grain and cotton producers, expressed the need for insurance to reflect the higher prices received for organic crops. Participants with small fruit and vegetable farms were skeptical about the usefulness of crop insurance for their type of operation. University of Maryland Working Paper (6/04).
Organic Produce, Price Premiums, and Eco-Labeling in U.S. Farmers' Markets—The popularity of farmers' markets in the United States has grown concurrently with organic production and consumer interest in locally and organically produced foods. This research, based on interviews with 210 market managers, describes the significance of these markets as outlets for many organic farmers, and recent shifts in relationships between organic growers, market managers, and customers. Vegetable Situation and Outlook (4/04).
U.S. Organic Farming in 2000-2001: Adoption of Certified Systems—U.S. farmland managed under organic farming systems expanded rapidly throughout the 1990s, and that pace has continued as farmers strive to meet consumer demand in both local and national markets. An increasing number of U.S. farmers are adopting these systems in order to lower input costs, conserve nonrenewable resources, capture high-value markets, and boost farm income. This report updates USDA estimates of land farmed with organic practices during 1997 with estimates for 2000 and 2001, and provides new estimates on the number of certified organic operations in each State. AIB-780 (4/03).
Organic Agriculture: Gaining Ground—Organic agriculture is expanding rapidly in the United States, as consumer interest continues to gather momentum and new organic production and marketing systems evolve. In the wake of USDA's implementation of national organic standards in October 2002, continued growth in the industry is expected. Amber Waves (2/03).
U.S. Organic Farming: A Decade of Expansion —American farmland under organic management has grown steadily for the last decade, with acreage for major crops more than doubling between 1992 and 1997, and again between 1997 and 2001. Certified organic pasture (including ranchland) also doubled between 1997 and 2001. USDA's national organic standards, which took effect in October 2002, incorporate an ecological approach to farming and are expected to generate further interest in organic products. Agricultural Outlook (11/02).
U.S. Organic Farming Emerges in the 1990s: Adoption of Certified Systems—Farmers have been developing organic farming systems in the U.S. for decades. State and private institutions also began emerging during this period to set organic farming standards and provide third-party verification of label claims, and legislation requiring national standards was passed in the 1990s. This report updates U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates of land farmed with organic practices during 1992-94 with 1997 estimates, and provides new State- and crop-level detail. AIB-770 (6/01).
Organic Wheat Production in the United States: Expanding Markets and Supplies —Describes the emerging markets and price premiums for organically grown wheat crops, as well as the production and distribution challenges posed by these crops. The article also examines the competition for international organic wheat markets and other U.S. organic export and policy issues. Wheat Situation and Outlook Yearbook (3/01).
U.S. Organic Agriculture Gaining Ground —Presents data on U.S. organic crop acreage and livestock numbers in 1997, an update from earlier estimates for 1992-94. During the 1990's, certified organic cropland more than doubled, while an organic livestock sector began to emerge. Agricultural Outlook (4/00).
Organic Fruit Growers Survey —Shows the results of a USDA survey of certified organic fruit growers in the United States in 1995, including the size of their operation, use of various pest and nutrient management practices, marketing channels, and information sources. Resources and Environmental Indicators Update (6/97).
Organically Grown Vegetables: U.S. Acreage and Markets Expand During the 1990's (text only; the special article is toward the back of the report)—Reports on the increase in organic acreage in top vegetable-producing States and the limited amount of publicly available wholesale price information on organic produce. Vegetable Situation and Outlook (5/97).
Organic Vegetable Growers Surveyed in 1994 —Shows the results of a USDA survey of certified organic vegetable growers in the United States in 1994, including the size of their operation, use of various pest and nutrient management practices, marketing channels, and information sources. More detail is contained in a 1998American Journal of Alternative Agriculture article (vol. 13, no. 2), "Organic vegetable production in the U.S.: Certified growers and their practices." Resources and Environmental Indicators Update (5/96).
Organic Food Distribution
Using Vertically Coordinated Relationships to Overcome Tight Supply in the Organic Market—A survey of certified organic handlers in the United States reveals that handlers widely use contracts as a means to not only procure needed ingredients but also to develop and maintain strong working relationships with their suppliers. Vegetable Situation and Outlook (10/08).
The U.S. Organic Handling Sector in 2004: Baseline Findings of the Nationwide Survey of Organic Manufacturers, Processors, and Distributors—This report presents findings from an ERS survey of certified organic intermediaries, and presents a baseline of their marketing and procurement practices in 2004. A large share of firms handles both organic and conventional products, most are small firms, and more than three-quarters are independent. EIB-36 (5/08).
Procurement and Contracting by Organic Handlers—Provides select results from the 2004 Nationwide Survey of Organic Manufacturers, Processors, and Distributors. The survey covered a variety of topics related to the procurement and contracting of organic products and ingredients. Data are available on 9 commodity groups, such as fruit and nuts, and 45 commodities. The procurement data include information from 1,038 facilities; the contracts data include information from 686 facilities that use contracts. ERS data product (11/07).
Organic Consumers and Markets
Growth Patterns in the U.S. Organic Industry—This article examines trends in production, marketing and trade of organic agricultural products between 2008 and 2013. Amber Waves (10/13).
Marketing U.S. Organic Foods: Recent Trends From Farms to Consumers—This report examines changes in the consumer base, along with the types and numbers of organic food retailers, manufacturers, and distributors, between the late 1990s and 2008.
Retail and Consumer Aspects of the Organic Milk Market—Consumer interest in organic milk has burgeoned, resulting in rapid growth in retail sales of organic milk. Most organic milk is sold in supermarkets, and organic price premiums are large and vary by region. Outlook Report (5/07).
Organic Demand: A Profile of Consumers in the Fresh Produce Market—The study analyzes ACNielsen Homescan data from 2001 and 2004 to determine the characteristics of organic consumers, what they buy, how much they spend, and the price premiums they pay for organic produce. Choices (4/07).
Organic Poultry and Eggs Capture High Price Premiums and Growing Share of Specialty Markets—Organic poultry and egg markets in the United States are expanding rapidly. This report examines trends in markets, animal numbers, and prices. Price comparisons between organic and conventional show significant organic price premiums for both broilers and eggs. Outlook Report (12/06).
Organic Price Premiums Remain High—Recent trends in price premiums for broccoli and carrots suggest that even though certified organic acreage is rising rapidly, demand appears to be growing fast enough so that farmers and wholesalers are maintaining a large organic premium for these products. Amber Waves (9/05).
Price Premiums Hold on as U.S. Organic Produce Market Expands—Price premiums for organic products have contributed to growth in certified organic farmland and, ultimately, market expansion. Fresh produce has long been an important component of the organic food sector, and a significant contributor to the organic industry's growth over the last decade. This article explores price premiums and market margins for a limited set of fresh produce items-carrots, broccoli, and mesclun mix. Vegetable Situation and Outlook (5/05).
Organic Food Industry Taps Growing American Market —American consumer interest in organically grown foods has opened new market opportunities, leading to a transformation in the organic foods industry. Organic food is currently sold in a wide variety of venues, including farmers' markets, natural foods supermarkets, conventional supermarkets, and club stores. New national organic standards will facilitate the marketing of organic products to consumers. Agricultural Outlook (10/02).
Recent Growth Patterns in the U.S. Organic Foods Market—As consumer interest in organic foods continues to gather momentum in the U.S., many firms are specializing in growing, processing, and marketing an ever-widening array of organic products. This report provides economic research on recent growth patterns in the U.S. organic sector, by market category, and a description of the marketing channels for major organic commodity groups. It summarizes USDA research, regulatory, and other ongoing programs on organic agriculture. AIB-777 (9/02).
Tracking Wholesale Prices for Organic Produce —Organic agriculture is one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. food sector. But collection of data (e.g., on prices) for this segment has lagged the industry's growth. Wholesale prices for organic produce are occasionally provided in Market News Service reports published daily by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service covering terminal markets in 15 U.S. cities. A more complete picture of industry price patterns will emerge if and when data become available for other terminal wholesale markets. Agricultural Outlook (10/01).
National Demand for Organic and Conventional Baby Food—Analyzes sales of organic and conventional baby food in mainstream supermarkets during the 1990s. National-level scanner data are used to assess market shares and price premiums, as well as to estimate price and expenditure elasticities. University of Maryland Working Paper (7/01).
Organic Marketing Features Fresh Foods and Direct Exchange —Examines the trends in organic food sales through various marketing channels, including the direct-to-consumer markets, which are used by a higher proportion of organic farmers than other farmers. FoodReview (1/01).
Demand for Organic and Conventional Beverage Milk—Examines the sale of organic and conventional milk in mainstream supermarkets. National-level scanner data for 1996-99 are used to assess market shares and price premiums, as well as to estimate price and expenditure elasticities. University of Maryland Working Paper (7/00).
Organic Foods: Niche Marketers Venture into the Mainstream —The organic industry has grown at a remarkable rate during the past several years. Average annual growth in organic food sales is expected to continue at 20-24 percent into the next decade. Rapid growth in demand presents the organic industry with a major challenge—to ensure an adequate supply while maintaining product integrity as commodities move along the marketing chain. USDA's proposed national organic standards, expected to be finalized this year, will provide a national definition of organic production, which is among the essential elements for assuring product integrity. Agricultural Outlook (6/00).
Demand for Frozen Vegetables: A Comparison of Organic and Conventional Products (text only; the special article is toward the back of the report)—Presents analysis on sales growth, market share, and price premia of organic frozen broccoli, green beans, green peas, sweet corn, and french fries as compared with their conventional counterparts. Vegetables and Specialties Situation and Outlook (11/98).
Demand for Organic and Conventional Frozen Vegetables—Compares the market shares and prices of organic and conventional frozen vegetables (broccoli, green beans, green peas, and sweet corn) using national supermarket scanner data for 1990-96. Price and expenditure elasticities are estimated using the almost ideal demand system. University of Maryland Working Paper (8/98).
Consumers Pay a Premium for Organic Baby Foods —Presents results from an economic study on what product characteristics consumers consider important when they purchase baby food. Organic was a major characteristic consumers value in baby food, as was the lack of added fillers such as modified starches. FoodReview (5/97).
Data Track the Expansion of International and U.S. Organic Farming—The consumption of organic food and beverages is concentrated in Europe and the United States, but the production of certified organic products is scattered worldwide. Amber Waves (9/07).
Symposium Proceedings: USDA Organic Farming Systems Research Conference—Symposium Proceedings of a conference held March 2011 in Washington DC—Researchers from USDA and over a dozen universities and other research institutions presented empirical findings at the conference on the agronomic, economic, ecological, and quality-of-life performance of organic farming systems.
Organic Agriculture: Innovations in Organic Marketing, Technology, and Research—Symposium Proceedings of a workshop held October 2005 at ERS, on the Plant Management Network website. The workshop examined producer options and obstacles, market growth, educational resources, benefits assessment, and research opportunities. PMN Symposium Proceedings (9/06).
EU and U.S. Organic Markets Face Strong Demand Under Different Policies—Many European Union (EU) countries have "green payments" available for transitioning and continuing organic farmers. By contrast, the U.S. Government has largely taken a free-market approach to the organic sector. Despite the different approaches, both regions have large retail markets for organic foods. For the full report, see Market-Led Growth vs. Government-Facilitated Growth: Development of the U.S. and EU Organic Agricultural Sectors. Amber Waves (2/06), WRS-0505 (8/05).
The Economics of Food Labeling—Traces the economic theory behind food labeling and presents three case studies, including organic agriculture, in which the government has intervened in labeling decisions. AER-793 (1/01.)