Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2001


Published in Great Plains Research 11:2 (Fall 2001). Copyright © 2001 Center for Great Plains Studies.


Funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, this short report, its foreword claims, "synthesizes and interprets economic studies of organic grain and soybean production by Midwestern universities." In so doing it reviews and analyzes previously completed studies from Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota, along with two earlier studies of the Corn Belt.

The titles of the chapters that follow the introduction offer a clear idea of the report's attempt at coverage: " The Growing Organic Industry"; "Is Organic Agriculture Productive and Profitable?'; "Review of Midwestern Organic Grain and Soybean Studies"; "Additional Considerations"; and "Policy Implications." The work was completed just before controversy erupted over the international trade of agricultural products employing genetically modified organisms, an issue likely to increase interest in organic agriculture significantly.

In addition to synthesizing previous studies, the report's major contributions lie in its examination of how price premiums change the economic competitiveness of organic agriculture and its conclusion "that organic production systems are competitive with most common conventional production systems. Indeed, if farmers obtain current market premiums for organic grains and soybeans, their organic production generally delivers higher profits than nonorganic grain and soybean production."