South Dakota News Watch‘s new report on fraud in organic farming includes some figures on how South Dakota seems not to be capitalizing on the organic agriculture market:
The organic food industry has exploded in roughly the past 30 years as a growing number of Americans and people around the world seek more healthful foods grown with fewer chemicals and less-invasive agricultural practices.
Sales of organic foods have roughly quadrupled in the past [5 years], from about $16 billion nationally in 2016 to more than $63 billion in 2021, according to the Organic Trade Association.
South Dakota has been slower than other states to take advantage of the exploding organic market, and is ranked 38th of the 50 states in the number of organic farms. South Dakota’s 124 certified organic farms and related businesses generated $14 million in product sales in 2019, a 42% increase over 2017. However, acres of farmland devoted to organics in South Dakota still make up less than 1% of the overall agricultural land in the state [Bart Pfankuch, “Fraud and Weak USDA Oversight Chip Away at Integrity of Organic Food Industry,” South Dakota News Watch, 2022.08.03].
California leads the nation in number of organic farms and organic production as a percentage of total ag output value. California’s $3.6 billion in organic produce makes up over 7% of California’s total agricultural output. South Dakota’s meager $14.4 million in organic produce is less than 0.2% of its agricultural output. North Dakota’s organic output, though still less than 0.4% of its total production, is nearly twice as large as South Dakota’s.
Other states’s organic farmers generate more dollars per acre than their states’ average output value per acre for all farming. South Dakota’s farms are also failing to generate that premium on their organic output:
- California: $3,726/acre organic vs $2,020/acre for all farms.
- North Dakota: $234/acre organic vs $187/acre for all farms.
- South Dakota: $197/acre organic vs $203/acre for all farms.
It seems strange that, in a state where we brag about farming being on eo four primary industries, more or South Dakota’s ag-industrialists haven’t figured out how to get more value for their efforts by raising organic crops.