Booming U.S. organic industry has California farmers increasing acreage

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California's sales of organic products have grown more than 50 percent in just three years, with the state leading the now $30 billion-a-year organic food industry.

California has the most organic farmers, organic acres and the state produces 40 percent of the country's organic business, bringing California agriculture back as a vital part of the economy.

Yet some small and medium-sized farms say since the business has become is so profitable in less than a decade, large conventional farms now want a piece. Farmers say that by switching some of their acres to grow organic, gigantic farms will drive the prices down across the market.

Some experts say that evidence on farm structure of the California organic industry strongly suggests that small-scale family operations will be increasingly marginalized from mainstream organic markets, especially since a small percentage of farms--those who grossed over $500,000 annually--were responsible for most of the sales.

Judging by the flourishing number of farmer's markets across the state, however, others say there is no need to worry. With an increasing industry comes many layers of new business opportunities. Also, the number of farmer's markets in the state is teetering on 1,000, giving smaller farms more opportunities to sell their products. John Givens' organic farm hits over 100 farmer's markets a week.

And with American's demand for organic products projected to grow at a rate of nine percent per year, according to the USDA, the California Farm Bureau Federation says organic  farms of all shapes of sizes in California will have no shortage of business.


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