Two New Publications on Organic Farming are Now Available from the USDA Economic Research Service
Characteristics, Costs, and Issues for Organic Dairy Farming
By William D. McBride and Catherine Greene, Economic Research Report No. (ERR-82) 50 pp, November 2009
Organic milk production has been one of the fastest growing segments of organic agriculture in the United States in recent years. Despite the growing number of organic dairy operations, the characteristics of organic dairy operations and the relative costs of organic and conventional milk production have been difficult to analyze. This study, using 2005 ARMS data for U.S. dairy operations, which include a targeted sample of organic milk producers, examines the structure, costs, and challenges of organic milk production. The analysis addresses economies of size, regional differences, and pasture use in organic milk production and compares organic and conventional milk production costs. The findings suggest that economic forces have made organic operations more like conventional operations and that the future structure of the industry may depend on the interpretation and implementation of new organic pasture rules.
To view entire publication visit: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/ERR82/ERR82.pdf
Marketing U.S. Organic Foods: Recent Trends from Farms to Consumers
By Carolyn Dimitri, and Lydia Oberholtzer, Economic Information Bulletin No. (EIB-58) 33 pp, September 2009
Organic foods now occupy prominent shelf space in the produce and dairy aisles of most mainstream U.S. food retailers. The marketing boom has pushed retail sales of organic foods up to $21.1 billion in 2008 from $3.6 billion in 1997. U.S. organic-industry growth is evident in an expanding number of retailers selling a wider variety of foods, the development of private-label product lines by many supermarkets, and the widespread introduction of new products. A broader range of consumers has been buying more varieties of organic food. Organic handlers, who purchase products from farmers and often supply them to retailers, sell more organic products to conventional retailers and club stores than ever before. Only one segment has not kept pace—organic farms have struggled at times to produce sufficient supply to keep up with the rapid growth in demand, leading to periodic shortages of organic products.
To view entire publication visit: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/EIB58/