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Organic Certification Dropout

The Organic Trade Association announced that organic food sales were up 6.4% from 2016 to 2017.

But what about Midwest farmers? According to a study out of Purdue University, they’re more likely than growers in other regions to give up their USDA organic certification. Of the 234 Midwest farmers surveyed that had been organic at one time, 36% had dropped their certification. Small farms were more likely to decertify. But 72% of those who decertified continued to use organic practices.

Why drop the organic label? The study cited the hassle of getting (and staying) certified, and access to organic markets and consumers (the top five states in organic sales in 2016 were California, Pennsylvania, Washington, Oregon and Texas). Small growers are often further from urban markets and organic “hot spots.” According to a Purdue press release, those farmers that decertified “seem to be committed to organic agriculture and might be able to obtain premium prices for continuing to use organic practices without the need for an official certification.”

Meanwhile, larger operations are often supplying supermarkets and other customers that require certification.

Source: GreenTalks, Ball Horticultural Company, 6/14/18


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