The largest volume of organic meat sales is for poultry. Chicken is the most widely available organic meat; it is found in a large number of natural food retailers and conventional groceries. Chicken is also the most popular natural and organic meat, purchased by more than seven in ten shoppers (Food Marketing Institute 2007). Organic chicken dominates because of its relatively short production cycle, low price premium and integrated production.
According to USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS), the number of certified organic broilers produced in 2008 totaled more than 9.0 million. The number of certified organic layer hens produced that year was more than 5.5 million, and the number of certified organic turkeys produced was 398.5 thousand.
Nebraska led the nation in organic broiler production, followed by California, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. The largest producers of organic hens were Pennsylvania, California, Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio. The largest producers of organic turkeys were California, Pennsylvania, Iowa and MIchigan. (ERS)
As of December 31, 2008, more than 4.6 million organic broilers were being raised in 35 states. California reported the highest number of organic broilers on hand (nearly 2.8 million), followed by Pennsylvania (more than 537 thousand) and Iowa (more than 224 thousand).
Sales of U.S. organic broilers totaled more than $195.8 million in 2008. Again, California ranked first, with sales of nearly $129.2 million. Pennsylvania had sales of nearly $15.1 million, and Iowa had sales of more than $8.8 million. Some statistical information about organic broiler production was not available for Nebraska and North Carolina. (NASS 2010)
In 2008, more than 80.4 million dozen organic eggs were produced on 978 U.S. farms. The organic eggs were valued at $154.8 million. The largest producers of organic eggs were located in California (15.8 million dozen), Pennsylvania (14.4 million dozen), Iowa (4.9 million dozen), Washington (4.4 million dozen) and Wisconsin (4.3 million dozen). (NASS 2010)
As of December 31, 2008, nearly 4.1 million organic layer hens were being raised in 46 states. Five states dominated that market: California (778 thousand), Pennsylvania (598 thousand), Iowa (253 thousand), Texas (249 thousand) and Washington (243 thousand). These states accounted for 51 percent of organic layer numbers. Sales of U.S. organic layers totaled nearly $2.2 million in 2008. (NASS 2010)
U.S. sales of organic turkeys topped $8.7 million in 2008. California reported the highest sales ($2.7 million), followed by Wisconsin (more than $144 thousand) and Washington (more than $35 thousand). However, some statistical information was not available for Michigan, Pennsylvania and Iowa. (NASS 2010) January 2013 . . . Organic Poultry
- Chicken Eggs, Table 11. Organic Livestock and Poultry Products Sold on Certified and Exempt Organic Farms: 2008, 2008 Organic Production Survey, National Ag Statistics Service (NASS), USDA, 2010.
- Layer Chickens, Broiler Chickens and Turkeys, Table 10. Organic Livestock and Poultry on Certified and Exempt Organic Farms: 2008, 2008 Organic Production Survey, NASS, USDA, 2010.
- Layer Hens, Broilers and Turkeys, Table 5. Certified Organic Livestock, Economic Research Service (ERS) datasets, USDA - Excel table providing number of certified organic poultry by state.
- National Chicken Council (NCC) - The NCC represents companies that produce, process and market almost 95 percent of America's chicken.
- National Organic Program, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), USDA - This program provides information regarding the national standards and organic certification. Only certified foods can be labeled as organic.
- Natural and Organic Foods, Food Marketing Institute Backgrounder, 2008.
- Organic Agriculture, ERS, USDA - This site about organic agriculture describes characteristics of the U.S. organic farm sector, including estimates of organic farmland acreage and livestock, by commodity and by state.
- Organic Livestock Requirements, National Organic Program, AMS, USDA, February 2013 - This fact sheet clarifies requirements for livestock to be certified organic. This fact sheet especially focuses on the ruminant pasture standards.
- Organic Livestock Workbook, National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), revised 2004 - This publication is designed for use by organic and transitional producers with livestock or mixed crop livestock operations.
- Wholesale Organic Poultry and Egg Prices, AMS, USDA - Weekly reports on price, sales and production data for organic poultry and eggs.
- Organic Poultry Gaining in Specialty Market Competition, Amber Waves, ERS, USDA, 2007 - Explains why poultry is among the fastest growing organic food products in the United States, despite high feed costs and other challenges in production and marketing.
- U.S. Poultry & Egg Association - This trade organization promotes the poultry and egg industry.
- American Association of Meat Processors - This national trade association has been in existence since 1939.
- American Meat Institute Foundation - A nonprofit research, education and information foundation established by the American Meat Institute to study ways the meat and poultry industries can produce better, safer products and operate more efficiently.
- Meat and Poultry Labeling Terms, Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), USDA.
- Organic Meat and Poultry Processing Basics, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, 2005.
- Rules and Regulations, FSIS, USDA.
- Avian Influenza in Free-Range and Organic Poultry Production, Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA), NCAT, 2006.
- Dietary Yeast Extracts Tested as Alternative to Antibiotics in Poultry, ARS, USDA, 2011.
- Organic Poultry - Meat Birds, Maritime Certified Organic Growers, Nova Scotia, Canada, 2002.
- Organic Production, ERS, USDA.
- Organic Poultry Production, University of Minnesota - This Web page provides an extensive list of links and resources for organic poultry production, including fact sheets.
- Organic Poultry Production in the United States, ATTRA, NCAT, 2008 - This publication discusses organic poultry production systems including living conditions, health, genetics and origin, feed and processing as specified under the livestock requirements of the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Program.
- Profitable Poultry: Raising Birds on Pasture, Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, 2006.
- Transitioning to Organic Poultry Meat Production, Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service.
- Consumer Preferences for Organic/Free Range Chicken, Kansas State University, 2002.
- NorthStar Neighbors: Neighbors and Friends Working Together, North Central Initiative for Small Farm Profitability - A Nebraska meat-marketing cooperative has a successful, informal equipment-sharing strategy.
Links checked January 2013.