As the Freeholder reported last Thursday, the current prices of corn and soybeans hardly cover the cost of production, let alone allow the farmer a decent living. While farmers may feel that they cannot do anything about it, I must highlight the organic option that is plainly available.
Certified organic crops have maintained stable prices at about double the conventional price, and sometimes more. For the 7 years that I have been purchasing organic crops, corn has sold between $200 and $300 per tonne, compared to $100-$160 for conventional. My current spot price for organic corn is $270, versus about $110 for conventional corn.
Organic crops also obey supply and demand pressures, hence the variations in the organic prices, But the demand for organic food among consumers has continued to rise without being matched by local crop producers. I must import corn from Québec, south western Ontario and the USA on a regular basis to keep up with my processing needs.
Organic crops consistently sell for twice the price, provide a yield that is usually about 75% of conventional in similar circumstances, and require far fewer inputs. Organic farmers manage fertility with crop rotations and organic amendments. They control weeds with crop rotations and mechanical weed control. At the end of the day, everyone wins with better net income for the farmer, less environmental impact in the field, and high quality food for the consumer.
Organic farming is clearly not for everyone. It is knowledge and management intensive. The learning curve and the transition period can scare off timid people. But for committed farmers, the conversion to organic production pays off in many ways.