Ellen: in the item below, you wanted evidence that organic produce actually
costs less to produce. I can reference to you a series of papers that we have
published on organic milk production in Ontario, if that will help. Two are in
American Journal of Alternative Agriculture (one out last year, and one coming
shortly). The third was in the refereed proceedings of a conference on
agriculture and the envrionment at Tufts several years ago. If you want the
actual references, pls get back to me.
In sum, however, we compared a group of 8 organic dairy operators (of a
provincial total of 18 at the time) with the ODFAP database (Ontario Dairy Farm
Accounting Project; an obligatory, 3% stratified random sample of all dairy
producers = 120 farms). Production records were obtained via the commercial
milk marketing "pool" that all milk went into at the time, so these numbers
were absolute (not estimates). Organic dairy farms were larger in landbase
(sign.), had similar herd size and labor use (ns), produced almost identical
levels of milk per cow (ns), and made more money (net profit) per cow, per unit
of labor, and per unit of land (sign). Note also that the organic milk was
marketed into the bulk pool, and received no premium price.
I cannot speak for other commodities, but this study supports the contention
that organic food is cheaper to produce. Ann
Ellen Rainwalker wrote:
> I don't know where the idea comes from that organic produce costs less to
> produce. Organic fertilizers and pest controls cost more, cover crop seeds
> have to be purchased, and there is a much higher cost for labour for
> fertilizing, making & spreading compost, weeding and other tasks that are
> usually done with chemicals on conventional farms, and management and
> record-keeping in general takes more time and energy. Lots of products that
> make life easier for conventional farmers are forbidden to organic farmers
> (e.g. slug bait, treated fence posts, etc). And then as you say there is
> the cost of certification.
> If anybody can provide proof that organic farming costs less to do, I'd
> like to see it.
> Ellen Rainwalker
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