Category Archives: organic farms

Colorado Farmers Hit by Flood Could Use Your Help

A friend of mine is involved in the efforts to help out the small farmers here in Boulder County and other northeastern Colorado counties following the devastating flood which happened two months ago.

Here is a brief summary from him about this most worthy cause:

Local Food Shift Group (a Boulder Colorado-based non-profit) has partnered with the Community Foundation of Boulder County to create the Front Range Farm Relief Fund (see video below).

The Fund will provide grants to small farmers, ranchers, growers, beekeepers and other food businesses in ten front range and northeastern Colorado counties hit hard by the “biblical” flood that hit the area in the middle of September.

Applicants to the fund are small, diverse farmers, ranchers, growers and food producers who do not qualify for federal flood insurance, FEMA benefits or other government aid programs.

Please learn more at: Front Range Farm Relief Fund, and pitch in if you’re able.


………………………………. TO DONATE ……………………………….

By clicking the link below, you will be directed to the Community Foundation’s secure donation site, where you can select the amount you want to give and your payment method.

Select “Front Range Farm Relief Fund” from the pulldown menu under “I want my donation to be designated toward:” to apply your donation toward this fund.

Thank you for your support!

Click here to donate now.

Or make a check payable to Front Range Farm Relief Fund, and mail it to:

The Community Foundation
1123 Spruce Street
Boulder CO 80302

U.S. Organic Statistics and Trade: We Need More Organic Field Crop Producers

The latest issue of the USDA’s Amber Waves publication contains an interesting piece about the growth of organic crop production here in the U.S., and includes trade statistics, too.

Earlier this year, I covered an eye-opening WSJ article which informed us that we import organic soybeans from China these days due to a lack of production here, and the statistics in this USDA article help bear that out. I have been able to verify this, because occasionally, I buy dry roasted wasabi-flavored edamame beans to snack on, and when I’ve checked the package label, sure enough, the bean’s origin is China. (Note that edamame beans are immature soybeans.) I’ve also checked the organic frozen edamame bean packages at my favorite grocer, and they also originate from China.

Though U.S. organic food sales have grown from $3.6 billion in 1997 to $28 billion in 2012, still only 1 percent of U.S. farms are organic, and about 70 percent of them are in the Northwest or Pacific regions. Organic food sales were up 11 percent in 2012, from 2011, which would suggest we are in a period of rapid growth for this producer sector.

The following chart lists 2011 cropland acreages for specific organic crops such as corn and soybeans versus the respective total crop acreage. Note that in 2011, certified organic cropland made up only 0.7 percent of U.S. cropland, at 3.1 million acres. For field crops, only 0.3 percent of corn, 0.2 percent of soybeans, and 0.6 percent of wheat were grown as certified organic.

The top two organic food sellers in this country are fruit and vegetable produce, at 43 percent of total organic sales, and dairy, at 15 percent of total organic sales. Although fruit and vegetable fresh produce amounted to 43 percent of sales in 2011, this category used only 16 percent of the certified organic cropland.

The organic meat, fish, and poultry category sales have gained most over the last decade, but still only amount to 3 percent of total organic sales.

The two organic foods which we import with the greatest value, bananas and coffee, are tropical/subtropical crops which we aren’t able to grow here.

Of all the organic product imports, soybeans showed the biggest jump in value from 2011 to 2012, more than doubling to $90.2 million, and imports of organic rice, wheat, and other U.S. staple crops also grew. This would suggest a good opportunity for American farmers to supply these niche markets. Because I’d much rather snack on some dry roasted organic wasabi-flavored edamame beans that are grown, processed, and packaged in Iowa.

To learn more, please go to the source for additional charts and statistics.

Your Certified Organic Food Just Might Rely Upon Chinese Imports

As policy would have it, our nation’s farmbelt keeps ramping up corn production to feed our automobiles, while our organic meat producers are left scrambling for a source of organic soybeans by importing them from China. Organic soybean imports more than doubled last year, with import growth coming from China, India, Canada, and Argentina.

Suppliers of organic milk, poultry, and other meats are concerned because the growth rate of farmers who are adding organic row crop acres is falling behind growing demand by the consumer. Organic fruit and vegetable production here in the U.S., which is nothing to boast about when you look at the graph which follows, is growing more quickly than the organic row crops.

While organic food sales in the U.S. grew 35 percent in five years, production lags.

Let’s blame the hassle factor. Let’s blame the economics.

Farmers choose pesticides and GM seeds over organic because it takes three years to become certified organic, there is a paperwork burden, and there are greater risks. Potential income during the two required transition years is sacrificed. In recent years, the economics just does not entice the farmer to grow organic row crops instead of conventional, as inputs and labor for organic costs more while yields are lower. In addition, crop insurance has favored the conventional grower. Last month, however, the USDA announced that it will make crop insurance more available and friendly to organic producers in 2014.

The next graph shows the rapid adoption rate of GM soybeans by farmers in the U.S. since 1996. (GM does not qualify as organic.)

And then there is the consumer to worry about. Does the consumer trust imported organic soybeans from China as the missing link to his or her organic food product? There is a moral conflict between eating organic meat or stir fry only made possible by importing soy or corn from China, presenting the consumer with a dilemma.

Unless, perhaps, ignorance is bliss.