The price of organic soybeans has reached a record high, causing problems for producers of organic chicken and other animals who depend on soybeans for feed.
Organic soybeans hit $33 a bushel in September, shattering the previous record of $25 from 2014-15. A chicken producer executive told Reuters that organic feed prices have jumped almost 20% this year, and might reach a 40% increase by year’s end.
The problem is that, despite being the world’s leading exporter of regular soybeans, the U.S. imports about 70% of its organic soybeans. Various obstacles have developed to imports, including a crackdown on quality standards for imports from source nations like India, and a general slowdown in imported cargo due to bottlenecks at U.S. ports.
Acreage devoted to organic soybeans by U.S. farmers rose 37% between 2016 and 2019, but it still represents about 0.2% of total soybean acreage. Prices for regular soybeans are also very high now, to the point where farmers are reluctant to begin the process of organic certification. It takes three years to certify a field as organic, during which time anything grown in it, without the benefit of artificial fertilizer, herbicide or other chemicals, has to be sold at the lower non-organic price.