The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) recently released the 2022 National Organic Research Agenda (NORA). It finds that while demand for organic products is on the rise, farmers still face challenges using and transitioning to organic practices.

Published every five years, NORA seeks to identify key challenges facing organic farmers. The report uses survey data to highlight research areas and recommendations that directly address farmer-identified needs. This year’s report draws on responses from over 1,100 certified organic farmers and 71 transitioning-to-organic farmers.

The NORA report finds that in 2020, organic food sales experienced a 12 percent increase from 2019, exceeding US$56 billion.

The expansion of organic agriculture is also supporting the environment. Brise Tencer, Executive Director at OFRF and co-author of the report, tells Food Tank, “Our findings confirm that organic producers lead the country in soil health management practices such as cover cropping, perennial conservation plantings, and water conservation in drought-prone regions.”

But challenges remain for organic farmers, with 67 percent of respondents reporting that weeds present production issues. Additionally, 59 percent report that managing production costs is also a challenge. The authors argue that there is still a need for additional research to address these issues.

Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) organic farmers report that they experience challenges to a greater extent than non-BIPOC farmers. These issues relate to production costs, weeds, disease, labor, certification costs, and securing capital and credit. In response, the authors call for urgent actions including increasing access to capital, land, and mentorship programs for BIPOC farmers.

Read the full article about challenges for organic farmers by Adam Sella at Food Tank.