Wisconsin has for the past several years been one of the national leaders in organic agricultural production, and a recently released survey from the National Agricultural Statistics Service shows the Badger state is home to about 9 percent of the nation's total number of organic farms.
Audra Hubbell, a research analyst for the service in Madison, says the numbers are really strong.
"We had the second largest number of organic farms in the country,” she states. “We had a little over 1,200 organic farms, and we also ranked fifth in the nation for sales with $201 million worth of organic sales."
Hubbell says Wisconsin's organic sales are up 51 percent since 2008, which she calls an indicator of the strong growth of organic farming in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin also maintained its position of leadership in organic livestock production, ranking first in the nation in the number of organic farms with milk cows, beef, hogs and pigs, sheep and poultry.
According to many agricultural leaders in Wisconsin, it's the state's diversity in livestock and crop production that underlies the state's strength in agricultural production.
Hubbell says Wisconsin's diversity is reflected in the numbers.
"We're number one in many of the categories of number of farms even though we're only fifth in total organic sales, and to me that says our farms are maybe a little bit smaller, but they are serving the local market as opposed to maybe some of the larger farms that are outside of the state," she says.
Hubbell adds organic agricultural production is demanding, but the future of organic in Wisconsin is good.
"Farming can be difficult today and so we think whatever farmers can do to help keep their farm going is good for them,” she stresses. “So if organic helps somebody stay farming and producing and having a local impact, then we think that's a good thing."