Researchers used alternative statistical methods to measure the cost difference between organic and conventional corn, wheat, and soybean production from farm survey data as if they were in an experimental setting. This study uses ARMS data that include information about the production practices and costs of U.S. commodity production—corn in 2010, wheat in 2009, and soybeans in 2006. “I’ve discouraged some farmers from going organic if they were already struggling with their conventional farm and not ready to embrace the mind shift involved in transitioning to organic,” said Brad Brummond, the extension agent from North Dakota who specializes in organic production. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. History of Organic Farming in the United States, An Overview of Organic Farming Systems, Page 2, An Overview of Organic Farming Systems, Page 3, An Overview of Organic Farming Systems, Page 4. Despite the strong interest in organic food in the United States, overall adoption of organic corn, soybeans, and wheat remains low, standing at less than 1 percent of the total acreage of each crop. The labor per acre was higher in his organic corn, but because the organic corn fetched $4 a bushel versus $2.50 for the conventional, he didn’t need to farm as many acres for the same amount of profit. It is hence possible and was proved that Rs 60,000 could be generated by a family from a 0.5 acre … Price premiums received for organic crops were generally above the estimated additional economic costs of organic production for most crops during 2011-14. Organic farmers are often the first to admit that as they were transitioning to organic systems, their yields declined. Organic farming systems are often more labor intensive because of increased time spent managing weeds and monitoring pests. For example in humid areas, pest and weed control measures can raise costs. Labor costs, however, can be measured in different ways. ERS studies programs such as the National School Lunch Program. To cast light on this issue, ERS researchers used actual farm data to estimate the difference in costs of production that can be attributed to producing certified organic crops and use these estimates to calculate the price premiums that make organic systems profitable when compared with conventional systems (see, “Data and Production Costs” box). Fish Farming. Jeff Moyer, farm manager at The Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pa., explains in a fact sheet published by the Institute (available at how organic farming makes good economic sense. Organic corn and soybeans have been profitable, primarily due to the significant price premiums paid for certified organic crops that more than offset the additional economic costs. The data show similar conventional and organic yields and lower organic production costs. The yield will be 20 tons per acre. Recent USDA survey data show corn acreage up 24 percent, soybean acreage up 3 percent, but wheat acreage down 3 percent between 2011 and 2014. Production costs are divided into operating costs, operating plus capital costs, and total economic costs. However, farm prices of organic feed wheat were only $1-$4 per bushel higher than those for conventional wheat, often below the additional economic costs of organic wheat production. Certified organic wheat acres were the highest, but declined after 2009. Moreover, they cut their debt-to-cow ratio in half. ERS conducts research on USDA's child nutrition programs and their role in children's food security, diets, and well-being. The yield differences revealed by survey data may be due to the unique problems encountered by organic systems outside of the experimental setting, such as effective weed control. Throughout 2011-14, price premiums for organic food wheat increased, reaching above $10 per bushel, much higher than the economic cost differential of $3.90 to $4.46 per bushel between organic and conventional wheat production. Updated September 2, 2020. Organic livestock systems often cost less, thus can be a viable option for beginning farmers or those who have trouble raising capital, because those systems do not require elaborate or expensive housing. USDA-projected longrun developments for global agriculture reflect steady world economic growth and continued demand for biofuels, which combine to support increases in consumption, trade, and prices. When Lynn Byczynski first authored an article on flower farming for Mother Earth News back in 2002, she estimated that “an acre of well-grown and marketed flowers is worth approximately $25,000 to $30,000 in sales.” Fifteen years later, cut flowers continue to be one of the highest-grossing crops you can grow per acre. Labor costs for organic production were also significantly higher. Source: USDA, Economic Research Service calculations using Agricultural Resource Management Survey data and include production cost differences plus organic transition and certification costs. USDA survey data show that organic systems had lower yields and higher total economic costs than conventional systems. One possible reason is the ease of producing for the conventional market. Finally, in a SARE-funded potato study in Idaho comparing 18 conventional and organic farms, the average material costs were lower in the organic and the labor costs higher, but overall there was no significant difference in fixed and variable costs.