Organics have grown at a rate of nearly 20 percent per year for the last seven (10?) years, and industry experts are continuing to forecast slowing but steady growth. [still makes up less than 4% of the total market]
http://www.pan-uk.org/pnarchive/pn-78-december-2007 [CanOrganicsFeed the World Summary]
"Triple bottom line" economics -- "people, planet & profit" (Putting ecosystems & people back to work & chemical back in the pandora's box they came out of.)
Most U.S. organic producers sold their products locally, with 44 percent of sales taking place less than 100 miles from the farm. Nearly 83 percent of organic sales were to wholesale channels, including processors, millers and packers. Just over 10 percent of sales were direct to retail operations, including supermarkets. Only 7 percent of sales were direct to consumers, via farm stands, farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture and other arrangements.
The definition for organic agriculture by the National Organic Standards Board (1995) is:
An ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.
Small farms rely on off-farm sources of income for 85 percent to 95 percent of what they bring in. Medium-sized operations, ones that earn between $250,000 and $499,999 in annual sales, rely on off-farm resources for almost 50 percent of their income. This means that most local unconventional and organic growers don’t even come close to earning a living from being farmers.
at current levels it would take 50 years of USDA organic research spending to match what it laid out for conventional ag research in 2010 alone.