Organic Dairy and Beef Producers Face Limited Markets, Feed Grain Shortages

Despite increasing U.S. consumer demand for organic animal products such as meat and milk, the total market share of organically certified animals, as well as of organic forage and feed concentrates, remained low between 2008 and 2019 compared with total herds and acreage. In 2019, organic dairy cows accounted for 3.6 percent of the total dairy herd, and organic corn for grain accounted for 0.4 percent of total corn for grain harvested acreage. By comparison, 9.5 percent of harvested vegetable acres were cultivated organically in 2019 (the most recent year for which complete data are available).

To be certified as organic, dairy and beef cattle must eat a diet consisting of certified organic pasture and feed. However, shortages of organic feed are a key impediment to the expansion of organic livestock products. Researchers at USDA, Economic Research Service identified several characteristics of current organic livestock and feed markets that may be acting as barriers to entry and are slowing domestic growth.

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