NC State Extension Publications


Sales of organic food products in the United States reached a new record of over $60 billion in 2023, nearly doubling since 2013. While total organic food sales in the U.S. continue to grow, this rate of growth has slowed, indicating a maturation of the organic product market.

North Carolina continues to be one of the top 10 states in total organic sales. In 2022, the state had a total of $308 million in certified organic sales, a slight decline from the $370 million in sales in 2019 (USDA NASS, 2019, 2021). This reduction in sales is invariably attributed to the loss of organic tobacco acreage and contracts.

To be certified as organic, livestock must be fed organic grains as required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Plan Rules. This requirement leads to more opportunities for production of organic grains. In North Carolina, organic grain producers have growing opportunities to market their products to manufacturers who create foods for human consumption as well as to livestock feed markets.

This guide provides farmers, Extension personnel, and other agricultural educators with information about organic production, certification, and marketing of commodity crops; additional resources are listed in the “Resources” section of this guide. This guide does not cover all aspects of commodity crop production but focuses on specific techniques relevant to organic systems in North Carolina. Comprehensive guides to commodity crop production can be found in the latest editions of these Extension publications:

Additional information is available from the NC State University Department of Crop and Soil Sciences.

The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) publishes a list of commercially available products that can be used in certified organic operations for pest control and fertility. However, some materials considered acceptable by the National Organic Program (NOP) are not listed in OMRI. Farmers are responsible for determining if any input is allowed for use on their organic farm. It is important to ensure inputs are in compliance with NOP standards prior to application; a producer’s organic certifier can help confirm if a product is compliant. Conditions for use of an approved pesticide must be documented in the organic system plan, as described by the 2000 National Organic Program.

We have made every effort to accurately cite NOP regulations, production information, and marketing information. Always consult your certification agency when you have questions about certification requirements specific to your particular farm.


Extension Organic Production Systems Specialist and Assistant Professor
Crop & Soil Sciences
Associate Professor and Extension Organic Cropping Specialist
Crop & Soil Sciences
Extension Associate, Organic Commodities
Crop & Soil Sciences

Find more information at the following NC State Extension websites:

Publication date: March 19, 2024

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