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Big increase in certified organic sales from 2015 to 2016

The USDA says the value of certified organic commodities jumped 23% from 2015 to 2016 to $7.554 billion. The number of certified organic farms and total organic acreage also climbed as consumers continued to respond positively to organic branding. The number of farms was 14,217, up 11%, 2,713 of which were in California, followed by Wisconsin at 1,276, and Wisconsin and Michigan were both in the USDA’s top 10 for total sales, at 6th and 8th, respectively. California accounted for nearly $3 billion or 38% of the annual total. The total number of certified organic acres in the U.S. last year was 5,019,496, an increase of 15%, with more than a million acres in California alone.

Most of the farms were on cropland, 13,560 operations on 2,714,498 acres, with the remaining 5,587 farms on 2,304,998 acres of pastures and rangelands. 12,309 farms on 2,322,418 acres were owned by the operator, with 6,091 farms on 2,748,105 acres rented from others. Another 412 farms on 51,027 acres were rented to others.

The top organic commodity was milk at $1.4 billion, an 18% increase from 2015, and the biggest year to year increase was in broiler chickens, shooting 78% higher for a total of $750 million. Also in the USDA’s top five for organic commodities were eggs at $816 million, 11% higher, apples at $327 million, an 8% rise, and lettuce at $277 million, up 6%. Overall, crops made up 56% of total sales, including $1.6 billion in vegetables, $1.4 billion in fruits, tree nuts, & berries, and $763 million for field crops. Livestock accounted for the other 44%, with livestock and poultry products, like milk and eggs, at $2.2 billion, and livestock and poultry at $1.2 billion.

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