P A N U P S
Pesticide Action Network
Results Released from First U.S. Survey of Organic Farmers
October 10, 1994
In July 1994, the California-based Organic Farming Research
Foundation (OFRF) released the final results of the first
national survey of certified organic farmers in the United
States. The survey identified the research and educational
priorities of U.S. organic farmers and collected valuable
demographic data on the size and scope of organic farming
operations. The eight page survey was mailed to over 2,700
certified organic farmers representing 54 verification
agencies, and generated 550 responses from growers in 39
"The results of this survey will help clarify a number of
questions continually raised about the organic farming
industry," said Bob Scowcroft, OFRF's executive director.
"We expect to develop a set of research priorities from this
survey and present them to key policy makers at the state and
federal level," he added.
Survey results showed that organic farmersU priorities for
research span a wide range of topics including how to
increase consumer demand for organic products, the
relationship of growing practices to crop quality and
nutrition, and the relationship between plant nutrition and
resistance to pests. Other high-priority research topics
include crop rotation, soil biology, public policy,
marketing, habitat management and other approaches to pest
control, and cover crops and green manures.
Over 60% of the farmers surveyed grow vegetables; at least
one-fourth grow herbs, tree fruit, field crops, root crops,
flowers or vine fruit. Livestock are most frequently used as
a fertilizer source for use on the farm, and somewhat less
often as a primary or secondary source of income. The median
number of commodities grown by organic farmers is between six
and ten, though more than 20% indicated that they grow over
The organic farms surveyed were primarily family farms: 84%
of respondents are sole proprietors or family partnerships.
Almost one-fourth of the farmers made 76-100% of their 1992
net family income from farming; however, nearly half made 25%
or less. The median gross income in 1992 from the farms
surveyed was $15,000 to $30,000, though approximately one-
fifth of the farms grossed $100,000 or more.
Survey respondents have been farming an average of sixteen
years and ten years organically. Three-fourths are male, and
the average age is 45 years. Nearly two-thirds have
completed college, and almost one-fifth hold graduate degrees
in subjects ranging from anthropology to zoology.
Source: 1993 National Organic FarmersU Survey, Organic
Farming Research Foundation, Summer 1994.
Contact: Bob Scowcroft, Organic Farming Research Foundation,
P.O. Box 440, Santa Cruz, CA 95061; phone (408) 426-6606; fax
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