A study released by the Washington State University has found that organic growers see greater profit margins than conventional growers.
The study by scientists David Crowder and John Reganold found sustainable, organic agriculture was more profitable due to the greater price premiums for organic produce, some 29-32 per cent higher than conventional produce.
While yields were around 18 per cent lower for organic crops, the premium on produce out-weighed the lower yields.
“The reason we wanted to look at the economics is that more than anything, that is what really drives the expansion and contraction of organic farming – whether or not farmers can make money,” Crowder said, adding that there’s room organic agriculture to expand, particularly with the help of government policies to help growers transition to organic.
“The challenge facing policymakers is to develop government policies that support conventional farmers converting to organic and other sustainable systems, especially during the transition period, often the first three years,” wrote Crowder and Reganold in the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study analysed 120 prior studies on organic agriculture, covering 55 crops in 14 countries across five continents, with the authors consulting agricultural economists to confirm their findings.