Organic Farming Grew 8% in 2010

The organic farming sector grew by 8% in 2010, dramatically outpacing the food industry as a whole which grew at less than 1% in 2010, according to an industry report released earlier this month at the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) 2011 Policy Conference in Washington D.C.

OTA released data onsite from OTA’s 2011 Organic Industry Survey that reveal the industry has grown from $3.6 billion in 1997 to $29 billion in 2010.

Despite the nation’s worst economic downturn in 80 years, the organic industry has come out of the recession hiring employees, adding farms, and increasing revenue.

Organized by OTA and supported by the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) under the theme "Advance Organic Together," the conference focused on the value of organic agriculture in providing sustainable jobs, supporting rural livelihoods, and advancing an entrepreneurial spirit.

Among the findings from OTA’s latest industry survey (at the link below:

  • The organic industry supports 14,540 organic farms and ranches across the country. A total of 4.1 million acres of land are currently in organic management, and there are organic farms in all 50 states.
  • Since 78% of organic farms report planning to maintain or increase organic production levels over the next five years, the organic sector will continue to play a contributing role in revitalizing America’s rural economy through diversity in agriculture.
  • 40% percent of organic operations added jobs in 2010. In addition, 96% of organic operations are planning to maintain or increase employment levels in 2011, and 46% of them are planning to increase employment levels three times the rate of businesses as whole.

Organic agriculture and the organic industry are fueling America’s growth. U.S. Census data shows that on average, U.S. organic farms have higher sales, higher production expenses, and higher operating profit than the average for all U.S. farms, thus creating real opportunities for rural economic livelihoods.

In fact, organic farms were shown to have an average operating profit nearly double that for all farms ($45,697 for organic versus $25,448 for all farms).

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