Capital Press looked at findings in our recent report, Breaking New Ground: Farmer Perspectives on Organic Transition, released in partnership with Oregon State University’s Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems:
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Among other things, [the report] identified obstacles that are holding back organic production. Chief among them, many said they would welcome farmer-to-farmer help, need help with weed and pest management and believe the cost of certification and required paperwork are major obstacles.
Farmers transitioning to organic said they would welcome mentoring from experienced producers and one-on-on technical help. Surprisingly, “yield drag”—reduced crop production from fields that no longer are treated with synthetic pesticides or fertilizers—was not an issue with survey respondents. Only 17 percent listed it as a major obstacle, 32 percent said it was a minor obstacle and 51 percent said it was not an obstacle at all.
Sarah Brown, education director for Oregon Tilth, said the certification agency is developing a mentorship program that will match beginners with producers who have successfully transitioned to organic. The survey results also provide justification for weed management research, she agreed.
Beyond technical issues, organic producers have passion on their side.
In the survey, 91 percent of respondents said organic production fits their personal or family values and nearly 87 percent it matches up with their environmental concern. More than 86 percent said organic production enhances farm sustainability and coincides with their concerns about human health.