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Organic Acres Rise But Producers Face Declining Production

Import markets could play a larger role in meeting U.S. organic demands over the coming year

Corn field

Organic farmers in the U.S. Corn Belt are feeling the effects of a tough 2019, with a decline in corn and soy production expected from this year’s harvest, according to the September Monthly Market Update from Mercaris.

As noted in last week’s Annual Acreage Report, overall harvested organic field crop acres will see a 7 percent increase over last year. That growth is driven largely by an increase in overall certified organic operations, primarily evident in new wheat production in the High Plains region.

But for the Corn Belt region, organic corn and soybean area will be down 10% or more in many states including Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin.

“This year, U.S. organic crop producers have faced some unprecedented weather challenges, the results of which can clearly be seen in this year’s harvested acreage outlook,” says Mercaris Director of Economics Ryan Koory. “Adding to this, the acreage limitations are not likely to be helped in any way by yields, which are on track to further tighten the U.S. supply outlook.”

Low production in 2019 could spark a resurgence in activity in corn and soybean import markets heading into next year.

“With a tightening U.S domestic supply outlook, it seems very likely purchasers will turn to foreign markets to fill in any gaps,” Koory said."With the increasingly complex nature of U.S. organic imports, however, it isn't clear that the market will see a substantial increase in either organic whole corn or whole soybean imports. Rather, tracking organic cracked corn, and organic soybean meal imports will become even more crucial over the year to come."

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