Breaking New Ground: Farmer Perspectives on Organic Transition, a joint report released by Oregon Tilth and Oregon State University’s Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems, highlights key recommendations for organizations and agencies that can provide support in crop research, infrastructure and market development as well as shaping public policies for transition to organic production:
- Adopt a values-based approach to appeal to a wider audience of farmers
Farmers pursuing transition are generally motivated to do so through an alignment of their personal values with benefits they ascribe to organic production.
- Provide individualized, in-person support
The top two methods of support desired were mentoring from experienced organic farmers and one-on-one technical assistance.
- Develop more effective weed (pest) management strategies
Effective outreach and support on weed and pest management in organic systems should include long-term trials, on-farm demonstrations and help farmers engage in participatory research.
- Learn more about the relationship between yield and successful transition
When discussing barriers to organic transition, farmers and agricultural professionals commonly cite concerns involving reduced yield. However, survey respondents consistently ranked this obstacle far below many others.
The report is based on surveys with over 1,800 farmers who participated in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative between 2010 and 2015, with a focus on transition. The survey’s response rate was over 34 percent and represents over 600 farmers.