Tuesday, December 04, 2012

New USDA organic agriculture survey

USDA in October released results from its 2011 survey of certified organic production.  Previously, the most recent such statistics came from a 2008 survey. 

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition explains how the survey results could be used to make crop insurance more accessible to organic producers.  Carolyn Dimitri, who used to do economic research on organic agriculture for USDA, and who now teaches and blogs at New York University, summarizes the differences in methods and results from 2008 to 2011.
The one sweeping generalization that I quickly reached is that the number of certified farms with sales declined between 2008 and 2011 for most, but not all of the commodity categories. At the same time, the value of sales increased for most categories, even for those with a decline in the number of farms. Several possible explanations come to mind: (1) farms exited the organic industry after 2008 because of the recession; (2) farms grew larger in terms of acres, which I can check (but haven’t yet); (3) the value of farm sales increased because prices farmers were paid increased, or because they were more productive, or a combination.

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