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Organic Survey

Full Report:

2014  |  2008  

Report Form and Instructions:

2014 Sample report form

Instruction Sheet

Additional Materials:

News Release | Highlights | Executive Briefing

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • 1. What is the Organic Survey?

    The 2014 Organic Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) in conjunction with USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA). This is the third organic production and practices survey NASS has conducted on the national level; the previous data collection efforts were the 2011 Certified Organic Production Survey and the 2008 Organic Production Survey.

  • 2. What is the scope of the 2014 Organic Survey?

    The 2014 Organic Survey is a complete inventory of all known organic producers in the United States that are certified, exempt from certification (those grossing less than $5,000 annually from organic sales), and those producers transitioning to organic production. This study is associated with the 2012 Census of Agriculture and serves as a census of all organic operations, as directed under the 2014 Farm Bill.

  • 3. Why is the Organic Survey important?

    The Organic Survey provides valuable, detailed, objective information to help determine the economic impact of organic production at the national and state levels. Data published from the 2014 Organic Survey will help provide the industry with a timely, reliable source of information.

  • 4. Who can use the data published from the Organic Survey?
  • The agricultural industry and all levels of government can use the information to prepare a wide variety of organic agricultural-related programs, economic models, legislative initiatives, and market analysis and feasibility studies. These programs directly affect the life and communities of producers and help to improve agriculture production technologies and practices. Specific examples of how the data can benefit producers include:

    • Agencies such as USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) use the data to evaluate and establish crop insurance programs for organic producers
    • Farm organizations use the information to lobby Congress or state legislatures for funding and support of organic production programs
    • Government, extension, and university scientists use the information to determine research needs
    • Government agencies and insurance companies can use the information to calculate disaster payments for producers
    • Suppliers to the organic industry use the data to plan production and marketing of new products

  • 5. How was the 2014 Organic Survey conducted?

    NASS mailed survey forms in early January 2015 to approximately 17,000 producers nationwide. Responses were due by mail by February 13, 2015, or online by April 3, 2015. Producers were also contacted by phone or in person from February 2015 ' April 2015. To ensure the most complete and accurate accounting of organic agriculture in the United States. The 2014 Organic Survey was a census of all known U.S. certified and exempt organic operations that were on NASS's list frame. This frame includes operations from the 2011 Certified Organic Survey and the 2012 Census of Agriculture, as well as new - entities obtained from the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) 2013 Certified Organic List1 and other sources.

  • 6. What types of questions were asked?

    The 2014 Organic Survey asked about organic farming and ranching activities during 2014, including:

    • Production of field crops, vegetables, fruits, tree nuts, berries, livestock and poultry;
    • Production practices such as pest management, cover crops, crop rotation, rotational grazing, conservation tillage, water management and buffer zones;
    • Production expenses;
    • Marketing practices, including wholesale, retail and direct-to-consumer sales; and
    • Value-added production and processing.
  • 7. Did an operation have to be certified organic to participate in the survey?

    No. The 2014 Organic Survey included USDA certified organic producers, organic producers exempt from certification (those grossing less than $5,000 annually from organic sales), and producers transitioning to organic production.

  • 8. Was response to the survey mandatory?

    Yes. United States law (Title 7, U.S. Code) required all those who received the 2014 Organic Survey to respond.

  • 9. Does NASS publish individual respondent information?

    No. Respondents are guaranteed by law (Title V, Subtitle A, Public Law 107-347) that their individual information will be kept confidential.


  • 10. When will NASS release 2014 Organic Survey results?

    NASS will publish the 2014 Organic Survey report on Thursday, September 17, at Noon ET. The 2014 Organic Survey results will be accessible online in several formats, including NASS' searchable Quick Stats database, a full PDF publication, and summary data Highlights.

  • 11. Where can I find Organic Survey data?

    Several options will be provided for accessing the 2014 Organic Survey data. A PDF version of the Organic Survey results will be accessible online. Data will also be available via a searchable database called QuickStats. Additional summary results and other materials will be provided. Visit to access the information online. Follow NASS on Twitter @usda_nass.

    For additional information on the Organic Survey, call the Agricultural Statistics Hotline at 800-727-9540 or email

  • 12. Will NASS conduct additional surveys or studies on organic agriculture in the future?

    Recently, NASS asked USDA agencies about their data needs and priorities for organic agriculture. Based on their input, NASS plans two upcoming surveys: the 2015 Organic Survey, which will collect 2015 data relevant to USDA's Risk Management Agency programs for certified farms, and the Organic Certifier Survey, which will collect 2014 and 2015 data to track data trends in the organic industry that are not available elsewhere. Previously, USDA's Economic Research Service collected this information.

    Pending Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval, we will begin collecting data in fiscal year 2016 for both the 2015 Organic Survey and the Organic Certifier Survey.

  • 13. How do I get counted for the 2015 Organic Survey?

    A farm is defined as any place that produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural products during the Census year. If your farm meets this benchmark you can register online.

  • 14. What if I want more information or need help accessing the results?

    Call the NASS Agricultural Statistics Hotline at 800-727-9540, email, or visit


  • 15. What is methodology?

    In statistics, methodology is the survey processes by which data are collected, analyzed and summarized.

  • 16. What methodology did you use to conduct the 2014 Organic Survey? Enhancements to methodology are always made to improve the reliability of data and ensure we are providing the type of information data users need. Producers selected to participate in the 2014 Organic Survey were identified through NASS' List Frame. Data were collected in a multi-mode effort where producers could respond via mail, telephone, the internet or by in-person interviews. The reported data were reviewed to determine the validity and representative quality of completed questionnaires and then summarized to produce final estimates, taking into account non-response, misclassification, and coverage. The survey's methodology is thoroughly documented in Appendix A of the 2014 Organic Survey publication available online at
  • 17. I noticed there are differences between the 2014 organic data published by NASS and the data published by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP). Why?

    There are survey and statistical methodology reasons as to why inconsistencies may exist between organic data sets provided by NASS and AMS' NOP.

    For example, the 2014 Organic Survey conducted by NASS is a complete inventory of all known certified organic producers in the United States as well as those organic producers exempt from certification and transitioning to organic. The data released from this survey accounts for producers only. Organic industry data published by the NOP for 2014 include producers, as well as processors, handlers and others.

    Another difference is the mechanism in which information is gathered from NASS and AMS. While both data sets provide statistics on the number of certified producers, the way the information was collected differs. For the 2014 Organic Survey the information was self-reported on the questionnaire. Overall response to the 2014 Organic Survey was 63% and adjustments were made to account for nonresponse, misclassification and coverage. The number of certified organic producers gathered by the NOP is collected as part of a mandatory reporting requirement.

  • 18. Can I compare 2014 Organic Survey data with survey data from previous years?

    The 2014 Organic Survey results reflect the industry as of the time the mail list was created and for the 2014 production year. Data users should allow for differences when comparing data between the 2014 survey and the 2011 Certified Organic Production Survey or the 2008 Organic Production Survey.

    • The 2011 survey collected data only from certified operations, whereas the 2014 survey collected data from certified, exempt, and transitioning operations.
    • The 2008 survey collected information from the same organic groups (certified, exempt, and transitioning) as the 2014 Organic Survey, but the 2014 survey was more comprehensive. It included data on many items not covered in 2008: vegetables in the open, vegetables under protection, crop insurance, and the monetary losses from the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The 2014 survey also collected expanded data on apples, grapes, and transitional acreage, which are not available for 2008.
  • 19. Can I compare 2014 Organic Survey data with the organic data from the 2012 Census of Agriculture?

    The 2014 Organic Survey results reflect the industry as of the time the list was built and the 2014 production year. Comparisons with the 2012 Census of Agriculture, other NASS publications and other non-NASS sources must allow for differences in reference periods, organic definitions and weighting methodologies.

  • 20. What is coefficient of variation and what does it mean for this Organic Survey?

    Coefficient of variation (CV) provides a measure of uncertainty of an estimate. The lower the coefficient of variation, the higher the reliability of the estimate. For the Organic Survey, it means that those using the data can assess the comparable reliability of the estimates. By publishing the CV, NASS is increasing transparency and data usability.

  • 21. Where can I learn more about the methodology?

    Appendix A of the 2014 Organic Survey report provides information about data collection and data processing activities and discusses the statistical methodology used in conducting and evaluating the survey.

  • 22. Where can I find definitions of terms and phrases used in the 2014 Organic Survey publication?

    Appendix B of the 2014 Organic Survey report includes definitions of specific terms and phrases used in the publication. It also provides an example of the report form and instruction sheet used to collect data.

  • 23. Are special tabulations available for data not published in the 2014 Organic Survey report?

    Special tabulations can be requested on the NASS website at

  • 24. Who can I contact if I think there might be a problem with the data?

    If you have a concern about state-level data, please contact the appropriate USDA NASS regional office ( If your concern is about national-level data, please contact or 800-727-9540. We can direct you to the appropriate subject matter expert.

1. At the time in which the sample was created and finalized, operations were still being added to AMS' 2013 Certified List.


Last Modified: 06/23/2017