As farmers nationwide are facing extreme stressors and either consolidating or retiring, organic is going against the grain. Despite overall declines in the number of U.S. farms, the number of organic farms increased 27% between 2012 and 2017, according to new data from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.
The value of organic sales in 2017 was $7.2 billion, and the average value of sales per farm has increased a remarkable 84% since 2012. Laura Batcha, the executive director of the Organic Trade Association, told Bloomberg that young families are among the drivers in the organic market as they seek to avoid residues of chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones on food.
Organic products fetch a higher price point than conventional. Indiana farmer Joe Mills can sell his organic food-grade corn for about $10.50 a bushel, while chemical-intensive sells for about $3.50/bushel. Mr. Mills notes, “Yes, it’s economical, but there is a huge learning curve and a mindset change. We relied on commercial fertilizers and pesticides for so long.”