South Dakota News Watch‘s new report on organic farming fraud includes some numbers on how South Dakota doesn’t seem to be capitalizing on the organic farming market:

The organic food industry has exploded over the past 30 or so years as increasing numbers of Americans and people around the world seek healthier foods grown with fewer chemicals and less invasive farming practices.

Organic food sales have roughly quadrupled in the past [5 years]from around $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 organic market boom and ranks 38th out of 50 states for 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 from 2017. However, acres of farmland dedicated to organic produce in the South Dakota still accounts for less than 1% of all farmland 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 the number of organic farms and organic production as a percentage of the total value of agricultural production. California’s $3.6 billion in organic produce represents more than 7% of California’s total agricultural production. South Dakota’s paltry $14.4 million in organic produce represents less than 0.2 percent of its agricultural production. North Dakota’s organic production, although still less than 0.4% of its total production, is almost twice that of South Dakota.

Organic farmers in other states generate more dollars per acre than their states’ average value of production per acre for all agriculture. South Dakota farms also fail to generate this premium on their organic production:

  • California: $3,726/acre organic versus $2,020/acre for all farms.
  • North Dakota: $234/acre organic versus $187/acre for all farms.
  • South Dakota: $197/acre organic versus $203/acre for all farms.

It seems odd that in a state where we boast that agriculture is on four primary industries, more and more South Dakota agricultural industrialists haven’t figured out how to get more value for their efforts by growing crops. organic crops.


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