Organic Production Promising for U.S. Corn and Soybean Growers
Demand for organic corn, soybeans, and grains continues to rise, and recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) indicates that the U.S. is importing ever greater volumes of organic grain to meet this demand. U.S. farmers would need to convert 600,000 more acres to organic production to reduce the country’s reliance on high volumes of imports, (which have recently come under scrutiny for being fraudulently labeled as organic) according to Peter Golbitz, CEO of Agromeris.
Despite these market conditions, U.S. producers have been reticent to make the leap into organic production. While corn and soybeans are the dominant crops produced in the country, corn, soybeans, and cotton have the lowest transition rates to organic of all U.S. crops, according to USDA Economic Research Service economist Catherine Greene.
The value of U.S. imports of organic soybeans jumped from $41 million in 2011 to $271 million in 2017, and the value of organic corn imports jumped from $24 million in 2013 to $122 million in 2017. All the while incomes for U.S. growers of traditional crops have been dropping and are expected to be their lowest in 12 years this year.
Conversion to organic and non-GMO soybeans would not only increase farm incomes to up to three times that of conventional varieties, but would give farmers access to restrictive markets. Transition to organic production can be a daunting process, however, much can be learned from farmers who have successfully made the shift.