Publications

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  • Characteristics of Conventional and Organic Apple Production in the United States

    FTS-34701, July 25, 2011

    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.

  • The Role of Contracts in the Organic Supply Chain: 2004 and 2007

    EIB-69, December 13, 2010

    Contracting is widespread in the organic sector. ERS summarizes survey data on contracting in that sector, addressing the extent of contracting, the rationale for using contracts, and contract design for select commodities.

  • On the Map: Western U.S. Has the Highest Number of Organic Dairy Cows Per Farm But the Fewest Farms

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2010

    Only 7 percent of organic dairies were in the West in 2005, but these operations accounted for 31 percent of organic milk cows. Operations in the Northeast averaged 53 cows per farm; the Upper Midwest, 64 cows; and the West, 381 cows.

  • America’s Organic Farmers Face Issues and Opportunities

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2010

    Organic agriculture has established a foothold in many U.S. farm sectors, but the overall use of organic practices lags behind that of many other countries. Emerging issues in the sector include dampened consumer demand resulting from the weaker economy and competition from new labels like the “locally grown” label.

  • Expanding Demand for Organic Foods Brings Changes in Marketing

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    The past decade has seen major changes in organic product retailing. In the late 1990s, the natural products channel was the primary outlet for purchasing organic food. By 2006, approximately half of all organic food was sold through the conventional channel, which includes chain supermarkets and warehouse club stores.

  • Organic Dairy Sector Evolves To Meet Changing Demand

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    Declining demand for organic products in response to the economic downturn has slowed the rapid growth in organic milk production. Economic forces, primarily lower production costs, may be pushing organic dairies to be more like conventional dairies in terms of size, location, and the types of technologies used. More specific pasture requirements for organic certification may affect how the organic milk production sector evolves.

  • Characteristics, Costs, and Issues for Organic Dairy Farming

    ERR-82, November 02, 2009

    ERS addresses size, regional differences, and pasture use in organic milk production. Economic forces have pressured organic dairies to operate more like their conventional counterparts and take advantage of economies of size.

  • Marketing U.S. Organic Foods: Recent Trends From Farms to Consumers

    EIB-58, September 30, 2009

    Organic foods now occupy prominent shelf space in the produce and dairy aisles of most mainstream U.S. food retailers. The marketing boom has pushed retail sales of organic foods up to $21.1 billion in 2008 from $3.6 billion in 1997. U.S. organic-industry growth is evident in an expanding number of retailers selling a wider variety of foods, the development of private-label product lines by many supermarkets, and the widespread introduction of new products. A broader range of consumers has been buying more varieties of organic food. Organic handlers, who purchase products from farmers and often supply them to retailers, sell more organic products to conventional retailers and club stores than ever before. Only one segment has not kept pace-organic farms have struggled at times to produce sufficient supply to keep up with the rapid growth in demand, leading to periodic shortages of organic products.

  • Emerging Issues in the U.S. Organic Industry

    EIB-55, June 03, 2009

    Consumer demand for organic products has widened over the last decade. While new producers have emerged to help meet demand, market participants report that a supply squeeze is constraining growth for both individual firms and the organic sector overall. Partly in response to shortages in organic supply, Congress in 2008 included provisions in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (2008 Farm Act) that, for the first time, provide financial support to farmers to convert to organic production. This report examines recent economic research on the adoption of organic farming systems, organic production costs and returns, and market conditions to gain a better understanding of the organic supply squeeze and other emerging issues in this rapidly changing industry.

  • Consumers Willing To Pay a Premium for Organic Produce

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2009

    Consumers are buying organic food despite its generally higher price tag. Retail sales of organic food increased from $3.6 billion in 1997 to $18.9 billion in 2007, accounting for over 3 percent of total U.S. food sales.

  • Vegetables and Melons Outlook: October 2008

    VGS-329-01, October 27, 2008

    Rapid growth in the organic foods market has placed great pressure on farmers and handlers in the U.S. organic sector. Handlers are firms that produce, process, and distribute organic food. As the middlemen in the supply chain, organic handlers have been unable at times to provide as much of their final product as the market wants and have also found needed ingredients in short supply. 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. Only a few organic handlers, however, have worked to assist farmers directly with farmers' transition to organic production.

  • U.S. Organic Handlers Mostly Small, Focus on Fruit and Vegetables

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2008

    Retail sales of organic food increased an average of 17 percent annually between 1995 and 2006. This growth was accompanied by significant changes in organic food marketing. Organic versions of conventional brands (such as Organic Rice Krispies) and private label organic products are now commonly sold alongside longtime organic brands (such as the Safeway “O” line of organic products).

  • Data Feature

    Amber Waves, September 03, 2007

    Certified organic production is scattered world-wide and is growing across the U.S. In 2005, for the first time, all U.S. states had some certified organic farmland. Overall adoption level is still low-only about 0.5 percent of all U.S. cropland and 0.5 percent of all U.S. pasture was certified organic in 2005.

  • U.S. Organic Farm Sector Continues To Expand—Updated

    Amber Waves, May 01, 2007

    Most segments of the U.S. organic farm sector have expanded since USDA set uniform organic standards in 2000. Certified organic crop acreage increased 11 percent between 2001 and 2003, with large increases for fruits and vegetables and for hay crops used in dairy.

  • Organic Poultry Gaining in Specialty Market Competition

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2007

    Eggs and poultry are now among the fastest-growing organic food products in the U.S. Despite rapid growth in production, supply has not kept up with demand, and price premiums for organic poultry and eggs remain high.

  • Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook: December 2006

    LDPM-15001, December 27, 2006

    Organic poultry and egg markets in the United States are expanding rapidly. Statistics for the sector, especially the number of organic broilers, also signal expanding domestic supply. This report examines trends in markets, animal numbers, and prices for organic poultry and eggs. Price comparisons between organic and conventional show significant organic price premiums for both broilers and eggs.

  • U.S. Organic Farm Sector Continues to Expand

    Amber Waves, July 01, 2006

    Most segments of the U.S. organic farm sector have expanded since USDA set uniform organic standards in 2000. Certified organic crop acreage increased 11 percent between 2001 and 2003, with large increases for fruits and vegetables and for hay crops used in dairy.

  • U.S. Organic Farm Sector Continues to Expand

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2006

    Most segments of the U.S. organic farm sector have expanded since USDA set uniform organic standards in 2000. Certified organic crop acreage increased 11 percent between 2001 and 2003, with large increases for fruits and vegetables and for hay crops used in dairy.

  • EU and U.S. Organic Markets Face Strong Demand Under Different Policies

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2006

    The article compares EU-15 and US policies regarding organic agriculture, and compares the farm sector and retail markets in the two regions.

  • On the Map: Certified Organic Handling Facilities Concentrated on Pacific Coast

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2005

    Just over 3,000 organic handling facilities were certified to USDA standards to handle organic products in 2004. Forty-one percent of these facilities are on the Pacific Coast.