US Department of Agriculture organic certification rates are falling in some states, not because farmers are giving in and returning to chemical-based food production, but because the record-keeping requirement is proving onerous for many small enterprises.

Many who decline or relinquish USDA certification are turning instead to the Certified Naturally Grown program, which is based on the USDA standards and involves peer-to-peer annual inspections and less detailed daily paperwork.

The Atlantic reports that the CNG program, which commenced in October 2002, continues to expand. Farms in 47 states are registered as CNG, more than 300 new applications were received last year.

Data from the 2014 US census showed the country has 18,513 USDA-certified organic farms and businesses, a 245 percent increase since 2002.