Beetology is a new line of delicious, organic, cold pressed juices from Kayco, and it’s offering the “clean” attributes health-conscious shoppers demand along with an amazingly delicious, crisp, and refreshing taste.
According to Charles Herzog, Chief Beetologist and Vice President of New Business Development at Kayco, “The movement toward simple, easy-to-understand healthy ingredients is now in the mainstream. Beetology beverages contain no more than five ingredients – nothing but organic, natural, cold-pressed juice. We’re especially proud of their pure, farm-to-table pedigree. You can taste the difference with our juices-we use only the best of the best in order to offer perfectly crafted blends for a crisp and uniquely flavorful difference in every sip.”
All five varieties are 100 percent non-GMO, USDA-certified organic, and certified fair trade. The 100 percent juice blends contain no preservatives, additives, artificial colors, or flavors. They are also non-soy, non-dairy, and certified kosher, making them perfect for anyone, any time.
As for those who balk at beets, Kayco says the trend is here to stay. “Beetology is out to prove just how sweet and tasty this misunderstood root vegetable is,” Herzog said. “We travel the world to find the best tasting beets, because we think that beet juice will be the next big craze since pomegranates.”
The myriad benefits of beets are well-documented. Dense in nutrients and high in antioxidants, they’re great for the heart, brain, and blood pressure. They help boost energy, aid in weight loss, support cleansing and detoxing, and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Best of all is the way beets harmonize with other natural juices. Every perfectly-crafted Beetology blend packs a delicious punch that’s refreshing, nuanced, and not too sweet. Varieties include Beet + Lemon + Ginger, Beet + Veggie, Beet + Tropical Fruit, Beet + Berry, and Beet + Cherry.
Refrigerated and merchandised inside the refrigerator, every bottle of Beetology is fresh and ready to grab and go. The new drink is distributed exclusively by New Jersey-based Kayco and will be available this spring at health food, specialty, grocery and kosher food markets .
Beetology is packaged and shipped in six 8-ounce bottles per case and retails for about $3.99 per bottle. Kayco, also known as Kedem, is headquartered in Bayonne, New Jersey, and is one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of kosher food products.
Wicked Joe Organic Coffees, the family-owned, 100 percent organic certified, Fair Trade™ coffee roastery known for its single origin varietals and blends such as “Wicked French,” has rolled out new packaging after more than 12 years in business.
The Wicked Joe product line – available at retail stores all over New England and in more than 1,500 grocery retailers nationwide as well as online – previously featured a black bag with a red and green coffee cup logo. Wicked Joe Organic Coffees now sports a cleaner, more modern look, including black and chrome brand elements and an array of accent colors indicating the individual blend, flavor or bean’s origin.
The company has grown and refined its operations significantly over the last decade, including increasing sales by 25 percent and growing capacity by 67 percent in 2016 alone. Owners Bob and Carmen Garver wanted a design that would more accurately reflect the roastery’s progress and focus on quality and professionalism.
“We are very excited about where we are with the business right now, and we think a fresh new look captures that feeling,” said Carmen Garver. “We worked collaboratively with our staff and explored many possibilities, and ultimately we wanted to communicate a vintage feel that could translate in today’s market.”
The colorful, lively nature of the new bags aims to stand out on retail shelves among dozens of competitors. Along with their ever-growing team of coffee experts, the Garvers have spent more than two decades – long before the Maine roastery opened – traveling the world in search of the highest quality coffee bean. From the beginning, the company has had a razor-sharp focus on quality, in addition to a commitment to community, farmers and the cooperative partners at bean origin.
“We are constantly evolving,” added Bob Garver. “Our close relationships with the farmers that grow our beans provide so many opportunities for sustainable business practices, education and above all else, inspiration for the next cup of joe.”
Wicked Joe’s new packaging is available in stores now. Visit www.wickedjoe.com for more information.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) announced a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help guide farmers transitioning into certified organic agricultural production.
Using standards developed by OTA, the National Certified Transitional Program (NCTP) will provide oversight to approved Accredited Organic Certifying Agents offering transitional certification to producers. This will help ease the transition process to organic, allow farmers to sell their products as certified transitional at a premium price and help encourage more organic production.
This announcement is an important step in helping to expand certified organic acreage in the United States. OTA designed the certified transitional program to create a consistent mechanism for certifying agencies to document operations’ adherence to organic regulations on land in transition to organic status. The new program provides certification and oversight to producers who are in transition to organic. It does not provide standards or criteria for labeling products certified under the program.
“The transitional certification program developed by OTA reflects perspectives from across the supply chain, and will provide an on-ramp to producers while safeguarding organic as the gold standard of food label claims,” said Nate Lewis, Farm Policy Director for OTA.
“USDA is excited to work with the Organic Trade Association on the National Certified Transitional Program, providing producers with a consistent transitional standard to market their products,” said USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator Elanor Starmer. “This program will help those transitioning to organic agriculture, encourage domestic production of organic products, and ultimately support the continued growth of organic agriculture in the United States.”
In a “Notice to the Trade” published by USDA, the department said the new program “will facilitate the investment in transitional agriculture through a consistent set of rules.”
Farmers must undergo a rigorous and sometimes challenging transition period of 36 months before they can gain organic certification and market their products as certified organic. This newly created program at USDA will harmonize existing transitional certification programs currently operated by Accredited Certifying Agents and provide a mechanism for additional certifiers to offer this service to new clients. The program is recognized by the USDA Quality Systems Assessment Program, housed within the Agricultural Marketing Service branch. USDA will accredit organic certification agencies that comply with the National Certified Transitional Program criteria, enabling those agencies to conduct certification of producers operating in accordance with the OTA-developed standards.
Demand for organic products has continued to grow by double digits every year, far exceeding the domestic supply of organic ingredients. OTA has been engaged in multiple efforts to boost the growth of domestic organic acreage and sees a harmonized transitional certification program overseen by USDA as a critical piece of this complicated puzzle.
OTA submitted an application to USDA in May 2016–after over a year of work on behalf of its members through a Transitional task force–to create the transitional certification program, thereby building the foundation for a potential market for transitional products. A transitional product market can offer premiums to farmers in transition and assist in the financial barriers that transition poses.
The oversight provided by USDA to certifying agents offering transitional certification to producers will consist of certifier audits and a uniform transitional production standard for both crop and livestock producers. Farmers will need to prove their land has been free of prohibited substances (synthetic pesticides and fertilizers) for a minimum of 12 months and must follow all other organic production standards to achieve transitional certification, including crop rotation, the fostering and conserving of biodiversity, and the avoidance of the use of genetic engineering. Once eligible for organic certification, land can only enter into the transitional certification program one more time. This provision, unique to the standards developed by OTA, will ensure that transitional certification acts as an effective on-ramp to organic production rather than a mechanism to create an “organic-light” marketing term.
The new program does not include certification of products labeled as “transitional” in the marketplace and is limited only to producers working towards their own organic certification. OTA anticipates working with certifiers, food manufacturers, and retailers to develop appropriate market-driven guidelines for proper use of the term “transitional” on consumer packaged goods.
To streamline roll-out of this new program, USDA will accept applications for the first round from Accredited Certifying Agents through February 28 to gain oversight for the transitional program, and on-site reviews of these certifying agents will occur at their next organic accreditation audit. Further applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis.
This program dovetails with USDA’s announcement in December of last year that it would expand the reach of the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program to include transitional certification fees. USDA’s recent initiatives will bring more opportunity to farmers and handlers across the country, and they represent additional elements of solid federal support for the growth of the organic sector.
By Lorrie Baumann
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is getting ready to release new regulations intended to ensure that consumers who buy organic meat, eggs and dairy products are getting products that came from animals that were treated humanely. At stake is possible adverse reaction from consumers who believe that organic certification already includes animal welfare rules – which it does – but who might be disappointed in the way that the rule is interpreted and applied by various organic producers. “This whole question of animal care and animal welfare is really important,” said Organic Trade Association Executive Director Laura Batcha, who cited a recent study funded by OTA which found that among the randomly selected consumer families with children in the home who were surveyed, the Millennial generation takes into consideration, not just possible pesticide contamination, but also animal welfare, environmental benefits and possible exposure to antibiotics as criteria for their decisions to buy organic items.
The organic industry wants to get ahead of that potential backlash by clarifying the existing standards so that the rules mean the same thing to all organic farmers and can be enforced consistently and fairly across the nation. “What we’ve heard from the National Organic Program was that they’re intending to finalize the rule by the end of the year,” said Nate Lewis, the Organic Trade Association’s Farm Policy Director.
The proposed rule is opposed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, which argue that the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 doesn’t give the USDA the authority to prescribe practices to promote animal welfare. “With regard to livestock, the National Organic Program’s coverage should be limited to feeding and medication practices,” Indiana Pork Advocacy Coalition wrote in its comment on the proposed rule. “Animal welfare standards not relating to feeding and mediation are not within the scope of the [Organic Food Production] Act and should be removed from this proposed rule.” Organic industry advocates are anticipating that once the final rule is issued, its opponents may sponsor a Congressional lobbying effort to attach riders onto next year’s national budget and appropriations bills that could prohibit the USDA from spending money to enforce the rule.
Lewis anticipates that under the final rule, farmers will have one year to comply with most of its provisions, three years to comply with the rules for outdoor space requirements and five years to comply with the rules about indoor stocking densities. The three-year delay for the outdoor space requirement will give farmers who need to add land to their operations enough time to meet the three-year requirement for organic certification, and the five-year delay for indoor stocking densities will give poultry farmers enough time to get their money’s worth out of the barns they’ve already built, which are, on average, seven years old. They have a depreciation life of 12 years, so a five-year delay in the requirement that they provide more space will mean that they get the full 12 years of life that are allowed by depreciation rules.
The regulations for organic livestock already require that the animals must be raised in an environment that allows animals to express natural behaviors such as spreading their wings and having the space to lie down naturally. They must be provided with adequate health care and protection from conditions that can jeopardize the animals’ wellbeing, such as predators and blizzards. The proposed rule is designed to clarify those existing requirements so they’re enforceable and transparent, “bolstering consumer confidence and strengthening the market for organic products,” according to the USDA, which published the proposed rule in April of this year.
The USDA received more than 6,000 public comments on the proposed rule, which would apply only to animals for which farmers receive organic certification, a voluntary program – it wouldn’t set up a mandatory standard for other livestock operations. According to the USDA, “the proposal aims to clarify how organic producers and handlers must treat livestock and poultry to ensure their health and wellbeing throughout life, including transport and slaughter.” It addresses the areas of the animals’ living conditions, health care, transport and slaughter. Among other things, it would clarify the existing regulation that organic livestock must have year-round access to the outdoors. This proposed rule specifies that “outdoors” means that the animals have to be allowed to go out into areas where they can see and feel the sun overhead and the soil beneath their feet – access to an open-air shelter or a porch with a concrete floor and a roof overhead wouldn’t qualify. Other provisions would set minimum standards for how much space is required for each chicken or turkey in a poultry barn, would require that organic pigs have dirt to root around in and would prohibit the transportation of sick, injured or lame animals for sale or slaughter and the use of cattle prods on sensitive parts of the animal.
The proposed rule follows recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board, a federal advisory committee of 15 citizens appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture that includes representation from the various stakeholders involved in the organic industry, including farmers, handlers, a retailer, a certifier, scientists, a natural resource conservationist and a consumer. The Board has been working on development of animal welfare standards for 10 years, Lewis said. “It’s all very transparent.”
The rule’s supporters include the OTA, which represents organic businesses, including growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers’ associations and others involved in producing and selling organic products across the 50 states, and by The Humane Society of the United States, the country’s largest animal protection organization, which said in its comments on the proposed rule that “The HSUS supports higher animal welfare standards for the National Organic Program (NOP) and supports finalization of the proposed rule. In some areas, however, we advocate for stronger changes or wording clarification.”
Perdue Farms, which is the largest provider of organic-certified broiler chickens in the U.S., also supports the proposed rule, except that the company would prefer that the USDA lengthen the amount of time it would give broiler operations to reduce their indoor stocking rate from the 6 pounds (of poultry) per square foot that Perdue says is the current industry standard recognized by the animal welfare certifier Global Animal Partnership to the proposed rule’s level of 5 pounds per square feet to three years instead of the one-year timeframe specified in the rule. To adjust to the 5 pounds per square foot rule, the family farmers who supply Perdue Farms’ chickens will need to add at least the equivalent of 65 additional barns at a cost of more than $25 million to their operations. They won’t be able to do that with only one year’s notice, so if the rule goes into effect with the one year timeframe, they’d have to reduce their flocks, which would effectively reduce the country’s supply of organic broiler chicken by 20 percent, according to Perdue.
Nevertheless, “Perdue supports the NOP’s desire to strengthen what it means to carry the Organic seal. These proposed standards will significantly differentiate organic growing practices from conventional operations and meet consumer expectations that Organic production meet a uniform and verifiable animal welfare standard. We are with you; we need the 3 year timeframe to make it happen,” Perdue said in its comments to the USDA.
America’s 75 million Millennials are devouring organic, and they’re making sure their families are too. Parents in the 18- to 34-year-old age range are now the biggest group of organic buyers in America, finds a new survey on the organic buying habits of American households released recently by the Organic Trade Association (OTA).
Among U.S. parents, more than five in 10 (52 percent) organic buyers are Millennials. And this influential and progressive generation is stocking their shopping carts with organic on a regular basis.
“The Millennial consumer and head of household is changing the landscape of our food industry,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association. “Our survey shows that Millennial parents seek out organic because they are more aware of the benefits of organic, that they place a greater value on knowing how their food was grown and produced, and that they are deeply committed to supporting a food system that sustains and nurtures the environment.”
OTA has partnered with KIWI Magazine to conduct surveys of the organic buying patterns of households since 2009. This year’s survey marks the first time that generational buying habits have been studied. The survey looked at Millennials (born between 1981-1997, currently age 18-34 years), Generation-X (born between 1965-1980, currently 35-50 years old), and Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964 and currently 51-69 years old).
Compared to Millennials who account for 52 percent of organic buyers, Generation X parents made up 35 percent of parents choosing organic, and Baby Boomers just 14 percent.
OTA’s “U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes and Beliefs 2016 Tracking Study,” a survey of more than 1,800 households throughout the country with at least one child under 18, found that more than eight in ten (82 percent) U.S. families say they buy organic sometimes, one of the highest levels in the survey’s seven-year lifetime. The number of families never buying organic has steadily decreased, going from almost 30 percent in 2009 to just 18 percent today.
Organic and Living Green
While 35 percent of all families surveyed said that choosing organic products is a key part of their effort to live in an environmentally friendly way, a greater percentage of Millennials said buying organic is a key eco-conscious habit than any other generational group. For 40 percent of Millennials, choosing organic is an integral part of living green, versus 32 percent of Generation Xers and 28 percent of Baby Boomers.
Organic buying continues to be on the rise across the generations. Forty-nine percent of all households surveyed said they are buying more organic foods today than a year ago.
Knowledge about organic is also growing across the generational spectrum of parents, but Millennials in particular are likely to view themselves as very knowledgable about organic products, with nearly eight in 10 (77 percent) reporting that they are “well informed” (34 percent) or “know quite a bit” (44 percent). With that knowledge comes a great deal of trust for the organic label. Parents’ trust in organic labeling is the strongest and highest among Millennials, with 54 percent saying they have confidence in the integrity of the organic label. Almost 60 percent of Millennial parents say they have a “strong connection” with the label and feel the organic label is an important part of how they shop for food.
“The Millennial shopper puts a high premium on the healthiness and quality of the food they choose for their families,” said Batcha. “This generation has grown up eating organic, and seeing that organic label. It’s not surprising that they have a greater knowledge of what it means to be organic, and consequently a greater trust of the organic label.”
Organic sales in the U.S. in 2015 posted new records, with total organic product sales hitting a new benchmark of $43.3 billion, up a robust 11 percent from the previous year’s record level and far outstripping the overall food market’s growth rate of 3 percent, according to OTA’s “2016 Organic Industry Survey.” Of the $43.3 billion in total organic sales, $39.7 billion were organic food sales, up 11 percent from the previous year, with non-food organic products accounting for $3.6 billion, up 13 percent. Nearly 5 percent of all the food sold in the U.S. in 2015 was organic.
More grocery shoppers are trying dairy- and meat-free alternatives, according to a new national health food study by Earth Balance, which makes a line of vegan buttery spreads, nut butters, dressings and snacks. Two thousand consumers were polled for the study, which looked at which new foods they’re trying, their top motivators and trends in healthy eating.
When asked which factors are most important to them when shopping for food, respondents said buying local (37 percent), organic (33 percent) and non-GMO (30 percent) are key. Additionally, Americans are more willing to try better-for-you-foods, with the study showing the most-tried are healthy snacks, dairy alternatives and oil alternatives.
Dairy alternatives have been tried by 29 percent of respondents. Superfoods (e.g., chia, acai and quinoa), alternative snacks (e.g., gluten-free crackers, nut butters and Greek yogurt) and alternative oils (e.g., avocado, coconut and sunflower) have been tried by 28 percent of respondents, and 18 percent have tried plant-based proteins, such as hemp hearts, lentils and spirulina.
Almost half, 42 percent, of consumers said they know more about plant-based diets now compared to five years ago, and 43 percent are more likely to try plant-based alternatives today. Thirteen percent also report trying a vegetarian lifestyle.
What’s more, over half said they’ve tried dairy-free alternatives such as dairy-free milk, cheese and yogurt. Sixty-three percent have tried plant-based protein alternatives, with tofu, meatless burgers and meatless hot dogs topping the list.
By Lorrie Baumann
Boulder Organic Foods is a fast-growing maker of fresh soups that are sold out of grocers’ refrigerated cases. “We started here locally in Boulder [Colorado] in a handful of stores, and today we’re in more than 2,000 stores nationwide in pretty much every major market in the country,” said CEO Greg Powers. “We are a dedicated organic, gluten free and non-GMO company. Everything we produce reflects those three attributes.”
The company was started just seven years ago by Kate Brown, a single mom who was looking for healthier fresh soup options. She made several shopping trips to local stores looking for a gluten-free soup brand that would meet her own dietary needs and that would also meet her goals for the food she wanted to give her daughter. When she didn’t find any, she decided to make her own.
After she began serving her soups to friends and family, one of those friends referred her products to the local Whole Foods store, which asked her to make the soup for sale there. At that point, she put together a business plan and spent a year or two coming up with recipes for commercial quantities of her soups and launched her new food business in early 2009. Powers joined the company several months later. “I joined her having a background in business, and between the two of us, with her passion and talent for cooking and her skills at coming up with new recipes, and my background in business, we built this company,” he said. “We’ve doubled our size every year since we began. It’s fast growth, but it’s also thoughtful growth. We’ve been very sure to keep the same quality, working with many of the same suppliers we worked with when we started years ago.”
Today, the company makes eight to 12 different soups at any given time – a core set that includes Roasted Tomato Basil, Garden Minestrone, Potato Leek, Red Lentil Dahl and Golden Quinoa and Kale soups, along with a rotating list of seasonal offerings in its SQF level 3 plant in Boulder, Colorado. Three new soups – Tomato Bisque, Broccoli Cheddar and Bacon Potato Corn Chowder – are launching early this month in Target stores.
Boulder Organic! packages most of its soups in 24-ounce containers. The serving size is identified as eight ounces, which works when it’s served as a side dish, but most people will want a bit more than that if they’re eating it as an entree, so in practice, most consumers will regard the 24-ounce container as enough to feed two people, Powers said. For club stores, the 24-ounce containers are bundled into a 2-pack, and Target carries a 16-ounce container.
While some of the Boulder Organic! soups are mostly vegetables with chicken stock in the base, many are vegetarian and a few include animal protein along with the vegetables. The heavy emphasis on vegetables in the ingredient deck is partly a response to the local market in Boulder, Powers said. “We have a very active vegetarian community in Boulder. For our little market, it was a good fit. It was a good way to start the company and produce products that would fit with our community.”
The company maintains its commitment to being a socially responsible woman-owned business, and 2 percent of its production is donated to a local food bank. “We try to treat all of our employees fairly and we have a very flat organizational structure,” Powers said. Employees are paid a living wage, and the company’s operations are zero waste, with everything that isn’t used up being composted or recycled. “We’re constantly looking for ways to reduce our environmental footprint further,” Powers said. “We also take food safety very seriously.”
JSL Foods has announced that it has gained organic certification from Quality Assurance International for products made in its Los Angeles, California, plant. This plant produces Asian noodles, rice, grain and Asian wrappers. Currently five noodle SKUs have been given the “Certified Organic” stamp.
“The word ‘organic’ should stand for something more than just a marketing hype to entice consumers,” said Teiji Kawana, company President. “At JSL Foods, it is a very personal commitment to quality – quality ingredients and quality manufacturing,” he added.
JSL’s two-step process of purchasing organic ingredients and then mixing the formulas goes beyond the processes used by many other organic manufacturing companies.
“We believe it is important that the manufacturing process be certified as well. Organic certification is the only way you can be sure a company’s product truly complies with organic standards,” said Wayne Nielsen, Vice President Sales & Marketing.
The company will continue to add more certified organic products to its line. JSL Foods is a third-generation family-owned business that markets to grocery retail, foodservice and industrial segments with its brands: Fortune, Twin Dragon and JSL Foods Professional Products.
Explore Cuisine will be launching its new Thai Rice Noodles at Expo East 2016. There are two varieties.
Brown Rice Pad Thai Noodles are made with organic, nutrient-rich whole grains. Brown Rice Pad Thai Noodles take the guesswork out of gluten-free Asian cooking by providing you with Pad Thai Noodles that are perfectly packed in a 2-ounce package.
Red Rice Pad Thai Noodles utilize nutritious red rice grain for authentic texture. Explore Cuisine’s Red Rice Pad Thai Noodles are a healthy alternative to traditional Pad Thai. With 4g of protein, this three-ingredient Pad Thai pasta is made with whole foods directly from the farm.
These pastas are certified organic and vegan, non-GMO and gluten free. They’re high in protein and fiber.
By Lorrie Baumann
American consumer demand for fresh, organic produce is creating the market that’s encouraging more farmers to convert land to organic production, according to Laura Batcha, Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association, and John Reganold, Regents Professor of Soil Science & Agroecology at Washington State University. “I’m hearing from a lot of the certifiers focusing on farm level operations that 2015 was their biggest year ever for new applications. There is an awareness of the supply crunch,” Batcha said. “There are produce companies that are going out and talking to farmers about transitioning because they do need the supply of organic.”
Consumer demand for organic produce has been growing rapidly, and the result has been that the U.S. has become a net importer of organic produce. The available trade data suggests that we’re importing produce during the winter season when it’s not available within the U.S., Batcha said. The exception to that is tropical products like bananas and mangoes, which can’t be grown in the mainland U.S. Coffee is the organic crop that’s most commonly imported into the U.S.
The United States is also a major importer of organic corn and soy livestock feed. “We’re relying on overseas production that could be done in U.S. except that we don’t have the growers,” Batcha said.
On the other hand, American organic farmers are also finding new markets outside the U.S., especially for products like carrots and apples, and the value of those exports to a world that’s hungry for organic produce is helping keep those farmers in business. “The U.S. is a major supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables to the world, and the world is looking for organic products,” Batcha said. “The exports really do help with profitability. They tend to be able to get a premium, … and that helps to sustain the industry.”
Many of those export crops are being produced on family farms, even if their individual crops are not large, according to Batcha. “Even the big players for strawberries are pulling their supplies from smaller family farms,” she said. Foreign demand for organically grown almonds and walnuts has also provided economic opportunities for family farmers, she added.
The Organic Trade Association is encouraging more American farmers to convert their land to organic production to meet the demand and is experiencing some success, although most of that is coming from younger farmers. The average American farmer, though, is about 58 years old. “There are a number of reasons for that. Farmers get more resistant to change once they reach about 40,” Reganold said. “To change a system from conventional to organic might happen more with younger people. Organic farmers tend to be younger, and maybe that reflects young people being more willing to change…. When I talk to organic, conventional, or other farmers, that issue comes up: we need more young people. Getting young people involved is not easy.”
“We’ve been talking about the supply issue for about a year and a half now. I’m at the point where I’m starting to feel a little hopeful. We’ve seen a lot of innovative partnerships happening within the supply chain to encourage farmers to go organic,” Batcha added. “Farmers are embracing a lot of different models in agriculture – organic being one of them. Younger folks are open to new ideas, and they’re experimenting. The desire is there for the vocation and the lifestyle, but there’s also the desire and the expectation to actually make a living doing it. Organic provides the opportunity to create a different financial model to get through that succession. We’re just going to see more of it.”
One obstacle is that transitioning land from conventional to organic production is a three-year process that involves compliance and documentation for a whole new set of regulations. “It takes time because you have to document and you have to answer questions for certifications,” Reganold said. He added that, despite the headaches of dealing with the rules, he’s finding more farmers who are committed to a process that offers benefits for their soils as well as a future for their farms. “A lot of us are anti-regulation – we have farmers who want to regulate themselves,” Reganold said. “[They’re saying,] ‘It’s okay to check my records.’”
“The success rate goes up dramatically for farmers who have a support system for knowledge transfer. Organic systems are more information intensive. If you’re going from conventional to organic, you’re losing the arsenal of chemicals and you have to learn how to manage without that. Your weed environment might change, your disease environment might change. You have to plan ahead because you don’t have instant solutions to the problems that come up,” Batcha said. “The imbalance between supply and demand always comes with a lag, particularly in agriculture, where you can’t accurately forecast three years out. We’re going to live in an environment when you’re short or long. We’re really trying to prepare now for new policies that can support growers when they’re transitioning. We seem to have gotten the attention of USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] on that issue.”