June 21, 2013
Washington state organic farming has seen a steady increase in acreage, yield, value and demand over the last 20 years. Organic food sales increased almost 10 percent in 2011 alone, reaching a total crop value of $285 million in 2012. Accompanying this substantial increase in organic crop value is a decrease in acres of organic farmland. Acres dropped from over 100,000 in 2009 to about 89,000 in 2012.
Organic farming contains many more added costs compare to conventional farming. Organic fertilizer is more expensive, so some farmers choose to use compost, which takes months to create. Kevin Stennes with Chelan Fresh Marketing said some organic crops will not make any more profit than conventional ones, even though that’s usually a case-by-case situation. Without the use of conventional insecticides, his organic farm faces many more challenges.
Washington has been called the epicenter of the nation’s organic apple and pear production, and Stennes agrees, especially with 4,000 acres of organic farmland in Chelan and Douglas counties alone.