In AGI SureTrack’s Organic Transitions webinar, AGI SureTrack Founder and Brand Ambassador, Todd Sears and consultant, Ben Elliott, discuss the misnomers and opportunities that exist around organic production. Sears says that while organic production is something that the industry has talked about for years, the adoption process has been slow, and today, processors struggle to source the organic ingredients they need to fulfill product orders.
“When you think about the state agriculture is in today, in regards to organic production, you can’t have the conversation without talking about market opportunity,” Sears says, “But there has been so much confusion and misinformation around transitioning to organic, that a lot of producers have felt too overwhelmed to begin the process.”
That is changing, though. Today, while hard work and challenges still exist in both organic transition and production, technology is helping to make tackling those challenges more worthwhile and the transition process less cumbersome.
And those advancements are the root of the AGI SureTrack monthly webinar. The first Wednesday of each month, farmers can login to learn the answers to their questions surrounding the transition to organic production, as well as the Energy Curve Technology (ECT), a complete three-year organic transition process.
Building on Sears’ thought that many farmers have strayed from transition because of the confusion and misinformation, Elliott shares that organic production, especially the transition process, is a new game in town.
“When you think about transitioning to organic production, you basically have to forget everything you know. It is changing. Organics starts with the basics, but you have to throw out the notion that the grocery store governs what is organic,” Elliott says, “Consumers drive demand and as more consumers are driving organic production, more acres are transitioning—that’s making the certification process more affordable and we are providing a process that streamlines the transition.”
Sears and Elliott recommend allocating a minimum of 300 acres to the organic transition process for maximum efficiency of equipment, time and labor. And nearly all land can be transitioned, no matter what the prior use has been.
“Land has to be well drained, and one of the best transition opportunities is land coming out of CRP. All ground will take three years to transition, but that CRP ground has already been fallow for seven years, so it makes the transition a little easier,” Sears says.
The transition process also integrates SureTrack FARM hardware and software.
“The ECT process introduces SureTrack FARM because of the complete management and traceability the solution provides,” Sears says, “The SureTrack hardware, FieldDataManager and, AGI SureTrack partner Farmobile’s PUC collect data both at the field and machine levels, and BinManager® protects the quality and integrity of the stored crop.”
The recommended transition crop for the transition program is soybeans, because of the market availability for the crop.
Elliott says that where the train leaves the tracks for most growers is when they learn how much paperwork and recordkeeping is involved in the transition and certified organic certification maintenance.
“There is 40 hours of paperwork involved in just getting started with the transition process, that doesn’t include the in-season benchmark paperwork or any maintenance. It is daunting for most growers. This is where the transition program steps in to provide a complete package. We do all of the paperwork, we make sure that you don’t miss a target date submission,” he says, “We are accurate and on-time and we do that through SureTrack and ECT technology.”
Once through the growing season and harvest, ECT and SureTrack continue to provide value by acting as a central hub for both processors and growers. MarketManager, a SureTrack FARM software, offers growers complete anonymity while listing crop characteristics, quantity and approximate location within the given zipcode. Processors can request to purchase grain, but the decision to execute the sale always remains with the grower.
“We have processors contact us every day, asking for help in sourcing specialty organic grains. At the end of the day, we want to be able to deliver those opportunities…opportunities for the farm to do more than breakeven…to the growers we work with,” Sears says.
For more information on the ECT organic transition program, as well as the complete SureTrack management solution, register to join the webinar the first Wednesday of each month and be sure to catchup by listening to past episodes.