Turn to Organic Comes as Overall Number of Farms Declines

Bloomberg writers Shruti Singh and Michael Hirtzer reported this week that, “With crop prices stuck in a multi-year rout, more farmers are chasing price premiums by turning to organic crops.

“Higher-value farm products such as organic allow farmers to boost returns over conventionally grown crops. While the number of farms overall in the U.S. from 2012 has shrunk, the number of organic growers has surged, according to the latest census from the U.S. Department of Agriculture published this month. The value of organic farm products more than doubled in 2017 from 2012.”

The Bloomberg article pointed out that, “Indiana farmer Joe Mills said food-grade organic corn that can be made into products like tortilla chips was fetching about $10.50 a bushel, compared with conventional corn of about $3.50 a bushel.

“Mills, who farms with his father Don, started to transition land to organic in 2015 and now has 230 certified organic acres. Another 290 acres are going through the three-year transition. While the financial returns are better, Mills said organic farming can be more labor intensive. Weeds, for example, are removed manually at many organic farms, compared with conventional operations where herbicides can be sprayed on fields by tractors or even airplanes.

“‘A lot of people get dollar signs in their eyes,’ Mills said by telephone. ‘Yes, it’s economical, but there is a huge learning curve and a mindset change.'”

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