12/15/10 – T. Marc Schober – Seeking Alpha
Organic farming entails tasks like planting and harvesting, but organic farmers have additional work that differs greatly from conventional farmers. Organic production is very specific to comply with certifications and requirements mandated by the National Organic Program (NOP), which was created through the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA). The NOP develops, implements, and administers national production, handling and labeling USDA standards.
When dealing with food production, the term, “organic” is not interchangeable with natural, free-range, or hormone-free. Organic grains, primarily corn and soybeans, can be very profitable for farmers as organic grains can sell for large premiums from farmers who are certified. The growing consumption of organic foods is also helping increase the value of U.S. farmland because more land is required to produce organic food since yields are typically lower than conventional farming.
What is Organic?
Organic foods and grains are produced without using pesticides, non-organic fertilizers, antibiotics, and hormones. Farmers that use organic production methods, and that have been certified organic by the NOP’s 55 domestic or 42 foreign accredited certifying agents, can sell their grains to organic handlers and producers. For a farmer to be certified, they must present an application to an accredited certifying agent with four items included:
• The type of operation to be certified
• A history of substances applied to land for the previous 3 years
• The organic products being grown
• The organic system plan describing practices and substances used in production.