An Iowa State University ag economist says farmers could see bigger profits in the years ahead if they jump into new markets, like organic foods. He says it’s correlated with how well the economy does, as people are more willing to pay for organic foods when the economy is good.I-S-U economist Bruce Babcock says if incomes continue to rise, then so will demand for “alternative” food. The challenge, according to Babcock, is that American agriculture is geared toward mass production of uniform products, like raw corn and beans. Babcock says new supply chains will have to be created, and some farmers have already started. Organic farming and raising “free-range” livestock is often more expensive than traditional methods, and Babcock says the challenge for farmers will be finding new techniques for growing crops and raising livestock that won’t blow a hole in the cost of production and actually increase profits. For example, Babcock just bought a dozen eggs raised in Alden, Iowa — laid by free-range chickens that are free of antibiotics and hormones. He paid $2.10. Mass produced eggs were a dollar cheaper by the dozen.
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