U.S. organic cotton increases in 2007

U.S. farmers grew nearly 7,000 acres of organic upland and pima cotton in 2007, a 14 percent increase over that grown in 2006, according to a survey conducted by the Organic Trade Association.

The survey, which was funded by a grant from Cotton Incorporated and conducted with organic cotton farmers in Arizona, California, Missouri, New Mexico, Tennessee and Texas, indicated growers planted 6,786 acres of organic cotton in 2007, up from 5,971 acres in 2006.

Those farmers project continued growth in organic cotton acreage in 2008, with as much as 883 acres more to be planted with organic cotton than were planted in 2007. The survey found farmers harvested 8,116 bales of organic cotton in 2006, down 16 percent from 2005’s 9,630 bales. Respondents cited weather and limited irrigation resources as factors in this change.

The survey also revealed a price increase in organic upland cotton from 2005 to 2006, with the average price per pound ranging from 85 cents to $1.25 in 2006. In 2005, the same type of cotton was priced between 80 cents and $1.05 per pound.

Organic pima cotton ranged in price from $1.65 to $2.09 per pound in 2006, though no comparable data from 2005 were provided for comparison. The survey was mailed to 49 people in seven states; 14 farmers returned completed surveys that met the criteria for analysis (namely, they grew organic cotton in 2006).

Six additional responding farmers did not grow organic cotton in 2006. Surveyed farmers also indicated that a variety of strategies could be used to improve support for the long-term economic sustainability of U.S. organic farms, citing continued premiums over conventional products, more education throughout the supply chain, and stable demand and price as some of the potential approaches to consider.

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