Report: Organic farming in New York keeps growing

Posted October 14

— New York's organic farming has grown over the past several years, led by milk sales, with agricultural land federally certified organic expanding to 934 operating farms last year, according to the state comptroller's office.

The report Friday shows sales of organic farm products rose from 2008 to 2014 statewide by 56 percent to $164 million. Sales jumped another 35 percent last year to $221 million, according to another federal report.

"Organic farming is not a fad, but a robust sector of our economy," Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said. Over the same period, the number of certified organic farms nationally declined slightly to 14,100.

U.S. Department of Agriculture survey data showed $94 million of organic milk produced at 402 farms in New York, ranking second nationally in 2014.

New York sales of organic crops at nearly $53 million were led by vegetables and melons, followed by apples, strawberries and blueberries.

Its $2.7 million of organic maple syrup ranked third behind Vermont and Maine.

The USDA regulations say that in order to get certification to sell or label farm products "organic," they must be produced and handled without synthetic substances and ingredients, ionizing radiation and sewage sludge. It has a limited exception for vaccines.

Certifications are done by entities certified by the USDA.

Organic farming remains a small portion of New York's overall agriculture, which recorded more than $5.4 billion in 2012 sales and occupies 7.2 million acres, almost one-quarter of the state.

"Any time you can see growth in the agricultural economy, that's beneficial to our farmers," said Steve Ammerman of the New York Farm Bureau. "What this demonstrates is there's opportunity to farmers looking to diversify or take advantage of new consumer trends."

The state is also seeing beginning farmers seeking the certification because of their lifestyle values and to be part of a local food movement, he said.


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