A Simple Solution for a Complicated Problem

Most agriculture production in this country is marketed as generic grain or livestock, where the only way to compete is to produce for less. These short-term gains are quickly lost as others learn these skills or adopt new technology.
The one practice that has kept many farms solvent is increased production, but steadily increasing production means greater investment, an option not available to most wanting to get into agriculture. Is it possible the “get bigger or get out” philosophy is making it impossible for young people to get in?
One option to enter agriculture is getting more per acre rather than adding more acres of production. Instead of focusing on the generic market, produce for a premium market. There is an established market today that pays a premium, not for what is produced, but for how it’s produced.
The organic market has been around for a long time and continues to grow at a rate of 20% per year. Craig Chase, an Iowa State ag economist, calculates a $254 annual per-acre return to management (after deducting labor and production expenses) for a four-year organic crop rotation of corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa. At that rate, only 171 acres are needed to generate $45,000 in net income, while a non-organic corn/soybean rotation farm with a profit of $52 per acre needs 865 acres to make the same money.
Learning organic production practices is a challenge, but once mastered, these practices will continue to provide savings and premiums.

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