Results of the 2008 Organic Production Survey indicate the nation's organic farms and ranches have higher average sales and higher average production expenses than U.S. farms overall. The report, issued by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, counted 14,540 U.S. farms and ranches that were either USDA certified organic or were exempt from certification because their sales totaled less than $5,000. These operations comprised 4.1 million acres of land, of which 1.6 million acres were harvested cropland and 1.8 million acres were pasture or rangeland.
While there were organic farms or ranches in all 50 states, nearly 20% of the operations were in California. California also led the nation in organic sales, with $1.15 billion – or 36% of all U.S. sales. Nationwide, 2008 organic sales totaled $3.16 billion, including $1.94 billion in crops sales and $1.22 billion in sales of livestock, poultry and their products.
Most U.S. organic producers sold their products locally, with 44% of sales taking place less than 100 miles from the farm. Nearly 83% of organic sales were to wholesale channels, including processors, millers and packers. Just over 10% of sales were direct to retail operations, including supermarkets. Only 7% of sales were direct to consumers, via farm stands, farmers' markets, community supported agriculture and other arrangements.