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Organic Trade Association
Organic Trade Association (OTA) is a membership-based business association that focuses on the organic business community in North America.

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Economics

The jury is out on the costs and returns of organic versus non-organic production. There are fewer costly inputs, but there is more labor involved. Handling and storage costs are higher, but so are prices for most organic crops. Some studies say yields are lower, while others say they're often the same as conventional. As always, it probably depends on the skill of the farmer. The transition period can be a financial challenge--when products can't yet be sold under the organic label. Certification fees are not usually prohibitive, but you'll have to decide for yourself.

The information we've gathered together for this section is designed to give you some sense of the costs associated with becoming and staying certified organic. We've provided some information on fees, though you'll find more about that in the Getting Certified section of the Pathway. We've included online tools that help you model and compare organic and conventional systems. We've included a variety of organic crop and livestock budgets that should help you get a sense of the costs associated with specific crops and enterprises. Finally, we've included price data on organic crops so that you can see for yourself one way you might be rewarded.

Previous page: Barriers and ChallengesNext page: Deciding If It's For You



Resource Listing
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The Organic Price Indexota
OPX, updated weekly throughout the year, compares organic and conventional prices on dozens of fruits, vegetables and grains.
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Dairy Pay-Price Comparisons for Organicota
Organic Farmers' Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM)provides this information from the CROPP cooperative.
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Dairy: Comparable Profitability of Northeast Organic Dairy Farmsota
This slide show, presented by Bob Parsons of the University of Vermont, compares organic and conventional dairy returns for two years--2003 and...
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Dairy: Survey Quantifies Cost of Organic Milk Production in Californiaota
This study measures the cost of organic milk production, and in particular, the differences in cost of production between organic and conventional...
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OFARM and It'sTarget Price List for Organic Grainsota
OFARM (Organic Farmers Agency for Relationship Marketing) is an "organization of producer groups dedicated to a farmers' best interest. OFARM...
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The True Cost of Organically Grown Foodota
Factors that lead to higher prices for organic: A fact sheet from Alberts Organics that is designed to help organic farmers respond to the...
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Organic Market Trends and Facts from the Organic Trade Association
This resource page from the Organic Trade Association links to information on the U.S. markets for organic cotton, wool and dairy, a 2006 organic...
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A Comparison of Organic and Conventional Diary Production costs in California
This study measures the cost of organic milk production, and in particular, the differences in cost of production between organic and conventional...
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Apples: Organic Apple Production in Washington State: an Input-Output Analysis
Organic food consumption in the U.S. has been steadily increasing in recent years. The objective of this paper is to provide an Input-Output (IO)...
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Apples: Sustainability of Organic, Conventional, and Integrated Apple Orchards
This research had two objectives: First, to look at a number of indicators of environmental and economic sustainability with these three apple...
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Beef. Organic, Natural and Grass-Fed Beef: Profitability and constraints to Production in the Midwestern U.S.
Organic and grassfed beef marketers across the U.S. are searching for more supply to fill their potential markets. Iowa State Value-Added...
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Broccoli: Estimated Costs for Producing Organic Broccoli and Lettuce in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties of California, and 10 tips for Postharvest Handling
This 2004 newsletter, the Central Coast Family Farm Report, provides very readable information on crop budgets for organic broccoli and lettuce,...
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Cost of Organic Pork Production
The objective of this report is to determine the cost of organic pork production. This report addresses the issue by examining the increase of...
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Crop and Livestock Budgets for Organic Production: Northeastern United States
Includes budgets for corn for grain, corn for silage, alfalfa hay (new seeding), alfalfa hay (established stand), soybeans, apples, bell pepper,...
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Crop Rotational Budgets for Three Cropping Systems in the Northeastern United States.
Budget categories: Conventional Production Practices, Integrated Crop Management Production Practices, and Organic Production Practices. Budgets...
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Dairy: Cost and Returns to Organic Dairy Farming in Maine and Vermont for 2004
There is a vacuum of any rigorous, quantified studies on the costs of producing organic milk in the United States despite growth and interest in...
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Dairy: Transition to Certified Organic Dairy (Fluid) Production--75 Milking Cow Herd on 50 Acres
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Fruit and Vegetable Market News (FVMN) Portal
Gateway to customized Market News reports and related information providing access to current supplies, demand, and prices of over 400 fresh fruit,...
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Grains: Sustainable Small-Scale Grain Raising
The goal of this Western Region SARE project was to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of growing organic grain, in this case...
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Hogs: Cost of Organic Pork Production
Projected costs for two organic pork production systems are provided: a seasonal system and a continuous production system. From Iowa State...
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Livestock Budget for 5000 Free Range, Organic Layers, from British Columbia
This enterprise budget was developed in 2002.
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Organic Apples - Okanagan Valley, Slender Spindle - 1210 Trees/acre
Organic apple budget from Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, British Columbia, 2001
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Organic Crop Enterprise Budgets from Kansas
These budgets are based on the actual financial figures of two Kansas organic farms. They provide budget data for feed corn, blue corn, sweet corn,...
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Organic Crop Production Enterprise Budgets from Iowa State University
An enterprise budget is an estimate of the costs and returns to produce a product (enterprise). For example, a conventional Iowa corn and soybean...
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Organic Farmgate and Wholesale Prices
The organic farmgate and wholesale price data set contains: monthly organic and conventional farmgate prices for broccoli and carrots; monthly...
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Organic Farming Cost and Return Studies in California
A number of cost studies for organically grown products are available through the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis....
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Organic Field Crop Budgets from North Dakota State University
Organic budgets include: Spring Wheat, Durum, Feed Barley, Corn Grain, Oil Sunflower, Confectionary Sunflower, Soybeans, Oats, Flax, Field Peas,...
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Organic Fruit and Vegetable Production: Is It for You?
This is a 2002 analysis of the organic vegetable market in Canada, and includes cost and return data on organic versus conventional production of a...
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Organic Goldenseal Production Enterprise Budget
1 Acre estimated Costs and Returns, as of 1/31/2001. "This budget represents the work of one experienced grower only. It is not a budget that has...
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Organic Livestock Cost and Return Budgets for Dairy Goats and Spring Lambs, from Rutgers State Extension in New Jersey
This Rutgers Extension web page links to various production budgets for livestock, as well as for fruits, vegetables and field crops.
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Organic Pork Production: A Two-litter Pasture Farrow-to-Finish Budget
Budget by Jude M. Becker, Mark S. Honeyman, and James B. Kliebenstein. (ASL, R1679) Iowa State University, 1999
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Poultry Enterprise Budget from the University of Wisconsin
Enterprises like pastured poultry can add to farm income with careful financial planning. Wisconsin's Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems...
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Preliminary Organic Production Profitability Analysis, 2005
A comparison of organic and conventional production systems in Minnesota, using 2005 farm data. By Ron Van Nurden, Farm Business Management,...
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Projected 2003 Organic Crop Budgets South Central North Dakota
The organic crop budgets for 2003 provide an estimate of revenues and costs for the organic production of selected crops in south central North...
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Projected Organic Crop Budgets for North Dakota in 2007
The organic crop budgets for 2007 provide an estimate of revenues and costs for the organic production of selected crops in south central North...
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Recent Canadian Wholesale Prices for Organic Fruit and Vegetables
Recent prices, in Canadian dollars, for various fruits, nuts and vegetables.
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Report Finds Financing Barriers for Small, Sustainable Farmers
Self-Help, one of the nation's largest community development lenders, announces the release of a research report on financing barriers for small,...
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Research on Yields of Organic Vegetables During the 3 Years of Organic Transition
Research from Oklahoma State University comparing yields and economics in organic vegetable production during the three year transition period,...
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Sample costs of Producing Organic Wine Grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon), 2005
This detailed cost study from the University of California looks at costs per acre to produce organic wine grapes, costs and returns per acre,...
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Sample costs to Produce Organic Almonds in California
This detailed cost study from the University of California looks at costs per acre to produce organic wine grapes, costs and returns per acre,...
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Using Vegetable Budgets to Make Decisions
An enterprise budget is an estimate of the costs and returns to produce a product (enterprise). For example, an Iowa corn and soybean producer...
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Weekly Certified Organic Poultry and Eggs Prices
Atlanta, GA, posted weekly. Data includes: Certified Organic Eggs in Cartons (price per carton delivered to first receivers) and Certified Organic...
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