Acreage planted to organic field crops is on the rise while land planted to non-GMO corn and soybeans is declining, according to a new report from Mercaris, a market data and trading platform for the identity-preserved grain industry.
The number of farms certified under USDA’s National Organic Program increased 3 percent in 2018, with the biggest gains coming in the Northeast, Corn Belt and West Coast. Mercaris estimates the number of certified organic acres in 2018 will total 6.5 million, up 2 percent from last year.
Demand for organic livestock feed is one of the main drivers of organic crop expansion. Organic corn, soybeans and wheat are expected to account for approximately 1.2 million acres in 2018. The number of certified organic corn operations increased 4 percent from last year, while overall acreage is set to expand 2 percent.
The growth was even stronger in soybeans. More than 2,500 operations produced organic soybeans, up 7 percent from last year. Overall organic soybean production also saw a 7 percent increase from last year, with large gains in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Missouri.
Overall non-GMO acreage declined by 5 percent this year, dropping to 12.1 million acres. Total U.S. non-GMO corn acreage declined for the second year in a row, and non-GMO soybean acreage declined 7 percent from last year. The largest decline occurred in Missouri, which was the top grower of non-GMO beans in 2017.
Mercaris used data from USDA’s Organic Integrity Database, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Economic Research Service and other surveys to compile its estimates.