America’s Organic Farmers Face Issues and Opportunities

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  • Organic agriculture has established a foothold in many U.S. farm sectors, particularly among horticultural specialties, but the overall use of organic practices lags behind that of many other countries.
  • Recent data from several producer surveys illustrate notable differences and similarities between organic and conventional farmers.
  • Emerging issues in the organic sector include dampened consumer demand resulting from the weaker U.S. economy and potential competition from new labels like the “locally grown” label.

Consumer demand for organic food rose quickly over the past decade, outpacing domestic supply. Initially, the resulting supply shortages hampered growth in the organic food sector. Still, investment in the sector expanded as more farmers developed experience working with organic production systems, Federal regulations, and organic markets.

Catherine Greene
Edward Slattery
William D. McBride
USDA Economic Research Service