WASHINGTON, DC, US — More farmers shifting to organic soybeans helped lift the overall growth in organic grains acreage in the United States in 2021, according to Mercaris, a market data service and online trading platform for organic and non-GMO certified agricultural commodities.

Total organic acres in 2021 totaled 9.1 million acres, boosted in part by an additional 40,000 acres planted to organic soybeans, Mercaris said. Organic soybeans not only saw a 13% increase in operations harvesting soybeans, but also showed growth in the acres harvested per producer.

“This expansion in organic soybean acres follows the stark increase in prices over the last year, meaning we can expect soybean acres to continue growing as producers look to take advantage of this bullish market,” said Henry Wilson, economist with Mercaris. “In contrast, the organic corn market — which has also been holding high prices — only saw a 3% year-over-year increase in harvested acres led mostly by acreage growth in Illinois and Nebraska.”

Mercaris said nearly every small grain — with the exception of barley — experienced growth in 2021. Organic small grains posted a 7% year-over-year increase in harvested acres, Mercaris said, with the expansion of small grain acres led by a significant addition of total acres in Montana as well as substantial growth in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.

“Overall, there was a lot of growth in organic agriculture in 2021 as more organic operations popped up and existing operations continued to grow,” Wilson said.