Special Report

These 10 States Grow the Nation's Organic Food

Paul Ausick

The Lower 48 states cover about 1.9 billion acres of land in what can only be described as a patchwork of cities, farmland, rangeland and public lands. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, cropland accounts for about 392 million acres, while pasture and rangeland account for 654 million acres. Nearly all the land west of a line along the eastern borders of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico — just over a third of all the land in the lower 48 states — is pasture and rangeland. Cropland accounts for just over 20% of the land in the Lower 48.

The USDA reported in 2011 that 9,140 farms, comprising 3.65 million acres of U.S. farmland, were managed as certified organic, with about 55% (2.03 million acres) as cropland and the rest for pasture and ranchland. By 2016, certified organic acreage on 14,217 organic farms had increased to 5.02 million acres, of which 54% (2.70 million acres) was cropland and 46% (2.30 million acres) was pasture and ranchland.

Between 2011 and 2016, sales of certified organic products more than doubled, from $3.53 billion to $7.55 billion. The value of organic agricultural crops rose from $2.22 billion in 2011 to $4.19 billion in 2016.

Certified organic farmland comprises less than 1% of all U.S. farmland. In Vermont, however, 11% of the state’s farmland is certified organic, and California, Maine and New York all have more than 4% of the state’s total devoted to organic farming.

According to Pew Research, the top food sold by U.S. certified organic farms in 2016 was cow’s milk from more than 2,500 certified organic milk farms, led by New York (471), Wisconsin (453) and Pennsylvania (300).

We’ve listed the 10 states with the most organic farms according to the USDA’s 2016 data. The rankings are based on the number of organic farms in the state, and we’ve included the total value of all organic products produced in the state and divided that total in food crops and livestock/poultry crops.

Click here to see the 10 states that grow the nation’s organic food.