Let's say you're a farmer in the Midwest, growing conventional corn and soybeans. Times are tough right now. Prices are in the toilet.
If only you were selling organic soybeans and corn. They're worth almost twice as much, per bushel, as your conventional crops.
So why not grow organic crops instead? There's a catch. You'd have to follow the organic rules, renouncing synthetic pesticides and fertilizer, for three entire years before any of your crops could be sold as organic. For those three "transition" years, you'd have the worst of all worlds: Low organic yields and low conventional prices.
The Organic Trade Association, which represents America's biggest organic food companies, wants to make it easier for farmers to get over this hurdle. And its proposal has just been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It's a new certification for food grown during this transition period. This certification, the OTA hopes, will put money in farmers' pockets and encourage them to take the leap into organic certification.
"This is all about creating more organic farms here in America," says George Kalogridis, who works for the Clarkson Grain Company in Cerro Gordo, Ill. Clarkson Grain buys and sells both organic and non-GMO corn and soybeans.