Growing organic food can be significantly more profitable than traditional farming, netting organic farmers 22 percent to 35 percent more than their conventional counterparts, according to new research published in the journal PNAS.
In the meta-analysis of more than 120 studies on the economics of organic farming, Washington State University professor of entomology David Crower and his co-author found that organic farming typically yields 10 to 18 percent less than conventional farming. That lower output may be why some farmers doubt the benefits of going organic, but economic measures besides crop yield seem to play an important role. The premium prices customers pay for organic products more than make up for the lower yield; while only a 5 to 7 percent premium is required to break even, organic products typically have a 29 to 32 percent premium, the analysis found. Going organic requires farmers to spend 5 to 7 percent more on labor, but besides labor, costs are largely the same.
“Public perception is that if you’re doing organic, maybe you’re sacrificing financial sustainability, but we show that’s really not the case,” says Crowder. “If you’re getting a 30 percent margin on your competitors, that would be the envy of almost any business.”
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