Farmers go organic in search of millennial dollars
Published: May 27, 2019
Category: Organic News, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter
It’s a striking statistic—as the total number of farms across the U.S. shrunk from 2012 to 2017, the number of organic farms jumped 27 percent. There were 18,166 organic farms listed, producing a doubling in the value of their organic farm products.
Following several years of stagnant crop prices, particularly corn, soy, and wheat, farmers are seeking the premiums that organic offerings afford.
“Premiums are there, and the farmers are able to be successful and expand their production,” said Laura Batcha, executive director of the Organic Trade Association. “Organic is continuing to buck the trend when it’s a tough time for agriculture.”
Food-grade organic corn can bring $10.50 a bushel, compared to $3.50 a bushel for conventional corn. That premium convinced Indiana farmer Joe Mills to transition to organic in 2015; he now farms 230 certified organic acres, with 290 more in transition. Despite more labor costs to grow organic, including weed removal, the profits are a strong lure.
“A lot of people get dollar signs in their eyes,” Mills said. “Yes, it’s economical, but there is a huge learning curve and a mindset change. We relied on commercial fertilizers and pesticides for so long.”
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