Organic agriculture is expanding rapidly in the United States. North Dakota led the United States in certified organic field crops acreage in 1997. Iowa ranked fifth in the U.S. in certified organic field crop acreage with 30,000 acres in 1997. “U.S. producers are turning to organic farming as a potential way to lower input costs, decrease reliance on non-renewable resources, capture high-value markets and premium prices, and boost farm income, (especially as prices fall for staple commodities)”. according to the USDA.
“Organic farming relies on ecological based practices such as cultural and biological pest management, and virtually prohibits synthetic chemicals in crop production and antibiotics or hormones in livestock production. Under organic farming systems, the fundamental components and natural processes of ecosystems, such as soil organism activities, nutrient cycling, and species distribution and competition, are used to work directly and indirectly as farm management tools. For example, organic farmers provide habitat for predators and parasites of crop pests, calculate plant/harvesting dates and rotate crops to maintain soil fertility, and cycle animal and green manure as fertilizers. Organic livestock production systems attempt to accommodate an animal’s natural nutritional and behavioral requirements. Livestock standards address the origin of each animal and incorporate requirements for living conditions, access to the outdoors, feed rations, and health care practices suitable to the needs of particular species”, according to the Economic Research Service, USDA.
Iowa State University
Tomahawk, W. Red and Honeyman, Mark S., "Current Status of U.S. Organic Livestock Production with a focus on Swine" (2001). Swine Research Report, 2000. 37.