GREENFIELD, Mass. -- When asked to identify the greatest challenges involved in marketing their products, more than 30% of farmers indicated "growing enough product to meet demand" as a challenge, while 37% checked "finding a market which will pay value-added costs of organic" foods, according to a new survey of organic farmers.
the North American organic agriculture industry.
Farmers voiced strong support for maintaining high standards for organic production and processing to ensure consumer confidence, according to the survey. Some respondents also indicated the national organic standards have made it easier for beginning farmers and easier to source organic grains for livestock. Farmers also reported in general, the NOP rule has not drastically changed organic certification requirements developed by private and state certification agencies from 1973 to 2000, the survey said.
When asked specifically about NOP, farmers said the new requirements for keeping logs concerning compost and the necessity of obtaining organic seed were their key concerns.
Respondents indicated several conditions must be met to improve long-term sustainability of organic farms, including more support of small farmers and less subsidization of large corporate farms; more research dedicated to the effects of genetically engineered crops; more efforts to increase consumer awareness and demand for organic products; stricter standards for livestock housing; increasing cooperatives and creating viable cooperative structure; finding ways to reward producers more, such as through higher prices and contracted prices; and making certification less complicated and expensive.
Nearly 40% of respondents said they intend to increase their organic acres, with the majority saying they planned to increase their acreage by up to 25%, the survey showed. The overall average of acres farmed, including organic and conventional acreage, was 775 acres, although 51% of respondents farm 200 acres or less.
Launched late last year, the survey was designed to determine the impact of the NOP on Iowa farmers.