The U.S. organic industry continues to grow, according to a new federal report released Oct. 22.
Total 2019 sales of organic products rose to $9.93 billion, up 31% from 2016, says the 2019 Organic Survey from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, or NASS, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
NASS also conducted an organic survey in 2016.
The new report also found 16,585 U.S. certified organic farms, a 17% increase from 2016. The 2019 organic farms accounted for 5.5 million certified acres, an increase of 9% from 2016.
But the Organic Trade Association, which represents more than 9,500 organic business in 50 states, said there's room for improvement.
"The numbers show that organic acreage is still less than 1% of our total farmland. This points to a real need for more technical, risk management and financial support for farmers wanting to transition to organic. USDA’s data bears out the continued — and urgent — need for greater support from the government to allow organic to continue its advancement," the Organic Trade Association said in a written statement..
Encouraging signs for the organic industry: The survey found that 29% of farms plan to increase their level of organic production and that more than 1,800 certified organic farms have 255,000 additional acres in the three-year transition period required for land to become certified as organic, according to the NASS report.
As might be expected, California continues to lead the nation in certified organic sales with $3.60 billion, 36% of the U.S. total, and quadruple that of any other state. It also led all states with 3,012 certified farms and 965,257 certified acres.
Washington, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Texas also are leaders in organic sales.
Montana was the leader among states in the Upper Midwest. Its $323 million in organic sales in 2019 sales ranked 14th nationally. Minnesota's $173 million ranked 22nd nationally.
The state totals for Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota weren't included in the report's list of top organic-sales states.
Nationwide, the single biggest organic sales category was livestock and poultry products, accounting for $2.48 billion in sales, up 12% from 2016. Milk alone accounted for $1.59 billion, up 14% from the previous survey.
The field crops category saw a particularly big increase, rising to $1.18 billion, 55% more than in 2016. Corn for grain rose a whopping 70 % to $278 million in 2019.