Help to go organic
U.S. growers sold $7.6 billion worth of certified organic commodities in 2016, an increase of 23 percent from the previous year. Hoosier farmers operating on thin margins see opportunity in the fast-growing organic grain market, but there have been few resources in the state to help with the complex transition. A team in the College of Agriculture is collaborating with Indiana University colleagues to change that. Thanks to a $200,000 grant from the USDA’s North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, they’ll compile information from farmers who have already made the transition, as well as industry experts like grain buyers and storage facility managers, to develop educational publications, workshops, field days, and regional meetings for farmers.
“This project has the potential to greatly raise awareness of opportunities in the growing organic marketplace with Indiana farmers. Agricultural diversification can help Indiana farmers spread production and financial risk,” says Michael O’Donnell, a Purdue Extension educator in organic and diversified agriculture and program director for the project. “Demand for organic grains continues to grow, with over half of the domestic demand for organic corn and soybean being satisfied with imports. This presents a major opportunity for farmers willing to navigate the three-year transition process from conventional to organic management.”