Organic label wrapped around a bunch of carrots Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
ORGANIC DECLINE: Whether through consolidation or just leaving the certification program, organic farm numbers declined from 14,540 in 2008 to 12,818 in 2015.

Organic regulations too onerous

Federal certification regs push some organic growers to decertify.

Midwestern fruit and vegetable farmers are more likely than those of California and the Northeast to give up federal organic certification. That's the bottom line of a new Purdue University study.

Despite booming demand, organic farm numbers declined from 14,540 in 2008 to 12,818 in 2015 — the latest numbers used in the study. Some of that was due to consolidation of small and medium farms into larger operations; but some simply left the program.

Purdue ag economists Ariana Torres and Maria Marshall studied data from more than 1,500 farmers.

Of the 234 that had been organic at some point, 36% had dropped certification. Some 72% continued with organic practices even after decertification.

They may be able to obtain premium prices without official certification, Torres explains. Many who opted out are likely selling organic produce directly to consumers through farmers markets or community-supported agriculture programs. "When your customers know how you farm, you don't need that tag saying the product is USDA certified," she says.

Source: Purdue University

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