Economic Research Report No. (ERR-315) 115 pp

March 2023

U.S. Organic Production, Markets, Consumers, and Policy, 2000–21

Organic agriculture can support global and domestic food needs, expand consumer food choices, enhance farm profitability, and increase agricultural sustainability. Public policy has played a key role in the development of the organic industry in the United States, beginning with the passage of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) subsequent publication of national organic rules in 2000. While U.S. organic acreage was still only 1 percent of U.S. farmland in 2019, organic farm sales accounted for about 3 percent of U.S. farm receipts, reflecting increasing demand from consumers for organic produce, dairy, poultry, and other high-value commodities. Consumer demand for organically produced products has driven an expansion in U.S. organic production since 2000. The premiums paid by consumers give farmers the opportunity to recover the cost of production and improve their financial well-being. This report describes important U.S. organic policy initiatives since 2000 and examines the importance of investment in research on organic practices. The report also investigates key components of organic supply chains—including production, certification, farm-level costs and returns, wholesale markets, and industry structure—along with the evolving characteristics of organic food consumers and retail markets.

Errata: On March 15, 2023, the text corresponding to the yellow bars in figure 2.6 was corrected. No other text or figures were affected.

Keywords: U.S. organic agriculture, USDA organic standards, organic farming systems, organic wholesale markets, organic price premiums, organic research, organic production costs and returns, organic food marketing channels, organic retail sales, organic retail market share, organic consumer characteristics, USDA organic certifier surveys, USDA organic INTEGRITY database, USDA Agricultural Resource Management Survey, USDA Census U.S. Organic Trade Data, retail food scanner data

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