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USDA survey looks at 2011 organic milk, forage production

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USDA released results of its first-ever Certified Organic Production Survey, based on 2011 production and sales estimates. The National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) conducted the survey for USDA’s Risk Management Agency to help refine federal crop insurance products for organic producers. 

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.)

Based on previous USDA reports, there were 51,481 commercial dairies in the U.S. in 2011, so organic dairies would represent 3.5%. Total U.S. cows averaged 9.194 million head, so organic cows would represent 2.2%. U.S. total milk sales were estimated at 196.25 billion lbs., so organic sales would represent 1.4%. The U.S. average all-milk price for 2011 was $21.67/cwt.

 

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.

 

Organic forages

Organic cows need organic feed, and USDA also summarized organic production and sales of several crops, including forages.

• Alfalfa/alfalfa mixture dry hay: The USDA survey indicated there were 2,003 farms producing organic alfalfa and alfalfa mixture dry hay in 2011. Acreage totaled 231,318, with total production at 747,555 tons.

Less than half the alfalfa/alfalfa mixture hay (312,693 tons from 769 farms) was sold as certified organic, for a total value of $60.65 million. That would put the average price at $193.95/ton.

Idaho, Wisconsin, Oregon, Minnesota and North Dakota produced the most acres of organic alfalfa/alfalfa mixture dry hay. However, due to yields, Oregon, California, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nebraska sold the most certified organic alfalfa/alfalfa mixture dry hay.

• Other dry hay: The USDA survey indicated there were 1,664 farms producing organic other dry hay in 2011. Acreage totaled 172,163, with total production at 411,828 tons. About two-thirds of the other hay (119,519 tons from 572 farms) was sold as certified organic, for a total value of $16.36 million. That would put the average price at $136.87 per ton.

New York, Vermont, California, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania produced the most acres of other dry hay raised organically.

• Corn silage/green chop: USDA’s survey indicated there were 958 farms producing organic corn silage or green chop in 2011. Acreage totaled 34,023, with total production at 538,548 tons.

USDA did not release how much of the total U.S. corn silage/green chop was sold as certified organic, but indicated New York, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pennsylvania had the most sales. Based on USDA production and value estimates, there was a large disparity in average prices.

• Haylage/other silage/green chop: USDA indicated there were 983 farms producing organic haylage/other silage/green chop in 2011. Acreage totaled 109,331, with total production at 636,571 tons. About 17% of the haylage/other silage/green chop (111,316 tons from 213 farms) was sold as certified organic, for a total value of $6.84 million. Wisconsin, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania and California had the most acreage devoted to organic haylage/other silage/green chop.

 

The survey results also include statistics on organically grown fruit and vegetables, value-added products and marketing outlets. The full results of the survey are available online at http://bit.ly/2011OrganicSurvey

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