School of Agriculture

Organic Farming Markets

Before entering organic farming, a producer needs to develop a marketing strategy to ensure the sale of their products at a fair market price.

Clarkson Grain Company, Inc., headquartered in Cerro Gordo, Illinois is a large marketing agency for organic crops. According to Jim Traub, Vice President of Clarkson Grain Company (July, 2003), " the market for organic grains remains a growing one. We will continue to have year to year fluctuations in the market and pockets of strengths and weakness throughout the geographic US, but there is continued demand for organic products. US and European demand is growing the most. We continue to see an increase in organic livestock operations in the US. Many of these tend to be actual 'working farm' increases-either commercial oriented intermediate operations or direct farm marketing operations. Which model a producer might choose would depend in part on how much committment to market and customer responsibility the producer might have. European demand is impressive. The ability of the European importer to garner very competitve prices is the biggest challenge to the US organic industry. To compete, it is important that farm certification be done to the standards of certifiers that allow for maximum market access. Global Organic Alliance (GOA), Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA), Indiana Certified Organic (ICO), Quality Assurance International (QAI), Farm Verified Organic (FVO), and OneCert are all certifiers that have shown willingness to adapt to international standards. National Organic Program (NOP) accredidation, by itself, does not assure maximum market access. Producers should consider strongly with whom they certify. In the food area, botique items continue with good demand but represent small amounts in absolute numbers." The organic crops from the Allison Farm have been marketed through the Clarkson Grain facility at the Beardstown, Illinois location.

For those in our region interested in this Clarkson Grain facility; their phone number is 800-453-3973 and the manager is Roger Hendricker.

A 2002 article in Successful Farming (Looker, 2002) discusses strategies for marketing organic crops. In this article Carmen Fernholz discusses the formation of OFARM, which stands for Organic Farmers Agency for Relationship Marketing. The article lists six marketing agencies and their phone numbers, which include:

  • Midwest Organic Farmers Co-op (217-923-2702)
  • Organic Farmers of Michigan (810-672-9345)
  • Buckwheat Growers Association of Minnesota (218-631-9212)
  • Great Lakes Organic (519-882-4526)
  • Kansas Organic Producers Association (785-939-2032)
  • National Farmers Organization (515-292-2000)

With companies like Clarkson Grain and marketing agencies like those mentioned above, organic markets should become more accessible for organic producers.

References cited:

Looker, D., ed. Network promotes higher organic grain prices. Successful Farming Mid-Mar. 2002: 12-13

Contact Information

Dr. Joel Gruver
Office: Knobluch Hall 302
Phone: (309) 298-1215

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