Organic corn, soybean imports depress prices despite soaring U.S. organic demand
Until late 2015, the U.S. price of organic corn hovered mostly above $12 per bushel, and the soybean price around $25 per bushel.
Then came a plunge to the current level of around $8 corn and $17 soybeans. That happened despite surging demand for organic livestock feed, driven by consumers' appetites for organic meat, milk and dairy products.
The collapse occurred under the weight of a five-fold flood of organic corn imports since 2013-14. In the 2016 marketing season, American feed and food manufacturers imported almost 22 million bushels of organic corn. Most of that came from Turkey, followed by Ukraine and several eastern European nations.
Organic soybean imports rose to almost 14 million bushels in 2016, more than tripling since 2013.
Some American organic growers grumble that the strong U.S. dollar and weak overseas organic standards are unleashing the surge into "our" feed markets. Others worry that tough U.S. organic standards make it risky to "go organic" amid the constant threat of cross-contamination from drifting GMO pollen and toxic pesticides.
They cite the fact that with even the most careful isolation amid neighborhoods that are 90% GMO crops, their organic or non-GMO corn or beans may face rejection at the buyer's delivery point.
The Feb. 21 Wall Street Journal has a comprehensive view of the challenge facing organic growers; visit this link to read.
Update Feb. 23: A followup report on www.world-grain.com explores the import surge further, and mentions that some U.S. food manufacturers are exploring "incentives" to encourage more farmers into the three-year transition to organic production. The report mentions a "transitional label" classification which could provide more price incentive than the modest premium for certified non-GMO production.
This season, we at Renewable Farming are offering U.S. organic growers a little help to offset the organic cost-price squeeze: We're making available a long-proven USDA-Organic approved biostimulant, Vitazyme.