Columbus — A government survey of U.S. organic farms shows that Ohio ranks seventh in the nation in its number of organic farms. Ohio is seeing double digit growth in the number of organic farms, organic land in production, and organic sales, illustrating the role of organic production in economic development.
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agriculture Statistics Service’s “2016 Certified Organic Survey,” showed Ohio’s organic sales increased by more than 30 percent since 2015 and the number of certified organic farms in Ohio is up by 24 percent. Since 2015, Ohio moved up from 8th to 7th in the nation in the number of organic farms.
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has prepared a two page summary of the findings, “Highlights from the 2016 Certified Organic Survey: Ohio in Context.”
Overall, the U.S. saw $7.6 billion in organic sales, as well as an 11 percent increase in the number of organic farms. More than 5 million acres of certified organic acreage are in production in the U.S., up 15 percent since 2015.
“The 2016 survey illustrates the strength of organic production and sales in the state of Ohio. Organic production continues to be a bright spot in U.S. agriculture,” said Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA policy coordinator. “As more farmers move land into organic production, it is important that we make sure we are doing all we can to support their success.”
Despite this growth and strong consumer demand, investments in organic research through USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Institute represent an average of just two-tenths of one percent of overall funding each year and Ohio has no extension educator positions dedicated to serving organic farmers.
“Organic production has not been able to keep up with demand, so this is a good time to review our agricultural funding as well as state and federal agency services to make sure investments are made in this growth industry so more Ohio farmers are equipped with the information, resources, and support they need to take advantage of this economic opportunity,” concluded Lipstreu.
Investments in organic farming could have larger economic impacts as well. According to a Penn State research paper on organic hotspots, on average, county poverty rates drop by 1.3 percent and median household incomes rise by more than $2,000 in counties with high organic activity that neighbor other high organic counties.
OEFFA is one of the oldest and largest organic certification agencies in the country, and offers educational programming and support to organic farmers and businesses, and those looking to transition to organic.