Jan. 28, 2020 (SILVER SPRING, MD) – An acre of organic cropland differs from a conventional farm acre, and that difference extends beyond production practices. What that means for land value is a question Mercaris and a new partner are digging into at a deeper level. The answer could make organics even more attractive for farmers in the United States.
The Croatan Institute has joined “Mercoterra,” a Mercaris initiative to compare certified organic farmland values to comparable conventional farmland values. Croatan Institute, based in North Carolina, is a non-profit research institute focused on areas including ecological resilience.
“With the recent challenges in agriculture, people are looking for ways to change or diversify their operations. While many of the benefits of organic farming are known, we need more hard data, particularly on the financial side,” Mercaris CEO Kellee James said. “Croatan Institute adds diverse areas of expertise to this initiative, and in the end, we will have an even clearer picture of the value of organic farming to America.” The initial Mercoterra white paper is scheduled for release near the end of Q1 this year. For Croatan Institute, the data and results will be incorporated into their broader “Soil Wealth” initiative, which seeks to outline the broad social, environmental and financial benefits of regenerative agriculture. Croatan Institute was recently awarded a $700,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help fund the $1.5 million study. The additional funds are secured through in-kind donations and contributions from partners including Mercaris.
“Land valuation is a critical component of the added value of organic agriculture,” said Dr. Joshua Humphreys, president of Croatan Institute and co-founder of the Organic Agriculture Revitalization Strategy (OARS). “We are pleased to join the Mercoterra initiative in order to advance the broader mission of OARS: to re-envision organic agriculture as an economic development strategy for revitalizing rural places. In doing so, we are also delighted to count Mercaris as a partner in our new USDA Conservation Innovation Grant exploring Regenerative Organic Agricultural Districts and land-secured financing opportunities associated with them.”
“Mercoterra adds to the larger narrative Croatan Institute is telling of what the future of rural America can be,” James said. “Agriculture is changing. We are helping people be part of that change.”
The Croatan Institute joins a team of existing members of Mercoterra including Midwestern BioAg, Peoples Company, and Laird Norton.
Since 2013, Mercaris has been helping its customers capitalize on growing demand for organic and non-GMO foods by providing market access and services tailored to the needs of the identity-preserved agriculture industry. Mercaris focuses its data and services on identity-preserved commodities, including organic and non-GMO corn, soybean, meal and organic wheat, and other small grains markets across all regions of the United States and Canada, and recently launched an organic dairy initiative. Mercaris also maintains an online Trading Platform, a pioneering tool that enables buyers and sellers to find new markets and more profitably trade organic and non-GMO commodities.
Matt Merritt - [email protected] - (605) 370-9959