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USDA survey looks at 2011 organic milk, forage production

USDA released results of its first-ever Certified Organic Production Survey, based on 2011 production and sales estimates. Organic milk was the top livestock commodity last year, accounting for $765 million in sales. Following is a summary of 2011 dairy and dairy-related components of the report.
• Milk cows: The USDA survey indicated there were 1,848 organic dairy farms in 2011. Cow numbers peaked at 213,376, with the total estimated at 199,737 on Dec. 31, 2011. 
States with the largest number of organic dairy farms were Wisconsin (399); New York (241); Pennsylvania (237); Vermont (184) and Ohio (135). States with the largest number of organic dairy cows were California (32,939); Texas (26,225); Wisconsin (23,115); New York (17,471) and Oregon (16,256).
• Milk production: USDA said 1,823 U.S. dairy farms sold organic milk in 2011, with 1,812 selling “certified organic” milk. Total sales were estimated at 2.798 billion lbs., with a value of $764.7 million. That calculates to an average price of $27.33/cwt. (Certified organic milk sales totaled 2.791 billion lbs., at a total value of $763.4 million, or $27.34/cwt.
Leading organic milk production states were California, Texas, Wisconsin, Oregon and New York. (Colorado sales estimates were not disclosed due to the small number of organic dairies.)
While the USDA report was billed as the first extensive look at organic production, a previous report released as part of the 2007 Census of Agriculture allows some comparisons. That report indicated there were 2,065 dairy farms with organic cows, with a peak of 219,031 cows (201,960 cows as of Dec. 31, 2008). Of those, 2,012 farms sold 2.76 billion lbs. of organic milk, with a total value of $750.1 million.