Archived at

What are the key issues faced by organic producers?

In: Organic Agriculture - Sustainability, Markets and Policies.

Proceedings of an OECD Workshop held in Washington DC, United States,

23-26 September 2002


Els Wynen


Eco Landuse Systems Pty Ltd

PO Box 1121, Belconnen 2616 (Canberra) ACT, Australia


E-mail: els.wynen[a] Website

Note: This article was presented at the OECD workshop in Washington in September. Single copies of the article can be downloaded and printed for the reader’s personal research and study. The content list of the proceedings can be found on the OECD’s website. 


Concerns facing organic producers can be divided into two main groups, production and marketing. In the early days of the organic industry, the production problems of farmers were emphasised, and research topics were often concentrated on soil, pests and diseases. More recently, as the industry matures and international trade of organic products has grown, the importance of market-related issues has come to the fore. On the one hand, the need for harmonisation of standards and acceptance of equivalence for market development — which would facilitate international trade — is recognised. On the other hand, a more serious push towards domestic consumption seems afoot, which would advantage domestic farmers but disadvantage producers in exporting countries.


1. Introduction

The aim of this paper is to consider developments in the organic market from the perspective of producers. What are the key issues for producers at present, and what are they likely to be in the future? What are the expectations of producers regarding organic agriculture? What are the trade issues arising from domestic policy measures to develop organic products, including impacts on developing countries?

Many organic farmers all over the world face similar technical, economic and social problems. These are identified in the following section. However, answers to these questions depend considerably on where the organic farmer is located. The geographical location of a farmer is important because soil and climate differences influence input requirements, yields and total farm production capacity. Different policy approaches are then discussed, looking at the impact of policies on those producers for whom they are beneficial and those organic farmers in other countries that feel the consequences of those policies.

2. Concerns facing organic farmers


The aim of surviving or thriving as an organic farmer can be accomplished in many ways. One component of survival is the financial viability of the farm. Farm returns are influenced by input use, total production, product prices and market access, that is, production and marketing issues. A summary of issues is provided here to serve as a background for the policy issues, discussed in the next section.


In essence, organic farmers manage soil fertility (often called crop nutrition by conventional farmers) and combat pest problems (including insects, weeds, fungi, nematodes and diseases) in a different way than conventional farmers. Management methods may include, for example, changes in inputs (crop varieties and livestock breeds; nutrients; predators), rotations (more and different crops and livestock), and timing of activities (planting dates and harvesting dates).


Thus, one area in which organic farmers encounter problems in the production of crops and livestock is in the maintenance of soil fertility and avoidance of pest attacks, while minimising the environmental effects of their actions. The exact nature of the soil, pest and environmental issues is geographically determined. For example, in a climate where frequent small amounts of rainfall occur, weeds are more likely to be a problem, while warm and humid conditions are more conducive to fungi or pest problems in crops and livestock. Dealing with these may require a change in use of other inputs, such as labour and capital.


It is therefore not surprising that because relatively few farmers use organic practices, many of the complaints by farmers are centred around lack of knowledge about organic management methods or about inputs (where to purchase and the efficacy of the available products). In addition, inputs may be more expensive due to extra transport and handling charges for those inputs not commonly purchased (Wynen 1992).


It is often assumed that more labour is needed in organic than in conventional agriculture, but this depends on the industry and country. Higher values for labour on organic arable and mixed farms are reported in Europe, with similar or lower values for dairy farms. In general, organic horticulture enterprises need considerable more labour (Offermann and Nieberg 2000). In Australia, the organic cereal-livestock industry and dairy industry don’t show any signs of requiring more labour than the conventional industries (Wynen 2000; 2001). While higher labour requirements may be seen as a problem by some and as an advantage in regions with high unemployment, the availability of the input, when required, may be a constraint.


Studies on differences in capital values of land used for organic and conventional production are more difficult to find. As land values are determined by expected returns, there should not be a large difference between the two types of farms. Organic farms may require additional capital due to, for example, changes in farm lay-out (fencing), storage, change in livestock numbers and in machinery. As these investments are needed when converting to organic farming, it is especially the farmers in transition who carry this burden.


Another issue, sometimes discussed by farmers perhaps more in the past than presently, is the moral support needed to take the step towards organic management while there is social pressure against adopting the technology (Wynen 1992).


Nutritional and pest constraints under organic management can result in yield decreases as compared with conventional agriculture. However, this is by no means always the case, especially not in areas where conventional agriculture is practised relatively extensively, such as in the United States, Canada and Australia (Lampkin and Padel (eds) 1994). Some studies indicate that the difference between organic and conventional yields is widening, but others suggest that this is not necessarily the case (Offermann and Nieberg 2000). In developing countries, the availability of conventional inputs is often restricted anyway, so that higher yields, if they were to be a result of those inputs, are not achievable. In addition, slow mineralisation of nitrogen, one of the factors that determines differences in yields between the two systems in cool climates, is not relevant in many developing countries. [1] A growing number of success stories in organic agriculture in developing countries are being recorded (FAO 1998; UNCTAD 2003).

The variability of yield and financial returns has been a topic of study in developed countries. Little evidence has been found that the management system is a major factor in the degree of yield and financial variability, although some studies show less variability under organic management (Lampkin and Padel (eds) 1994).

The tendency towards mono-cropping in conventional farming is reversed on an organic farm. That is, less financially-rewarding production may be included in the rotation. This affects the total farm production, and has a negative effect on the gross returns.

Farm returns

From the producers’ point of view, net returns to farming are an important, albeit not the sole, consideration to continue farming. These net returns are made up of gross returns for the whole farm minus input costs. The gross returns are dependent on total production (that is, yields of individual enterprises and rotation practised on the farm), product prices, and farm subsidies.

Although the level of prices influence demand for the product, it is the relative prices of conventional and organic products that are of importance in consumer decisions. This means that there are two prices that are of importance. One is the retail price of the organic product, which is only in part (depending on the product) influenced by the farm-gate price. As long as organic production is small, the off-farm costs of marketing the product (including cost of transport, insurance and distribution) will be high relative to those in conventional products. This extra cost will need to be recouped by the traders, resulting in high retail prices. However, in markets where traders have monopoly powers, the retail price can also reflect, at least in part, monopoly rent.

The other important price is the retail price of conventional products. External costs of conventional farming practices (such as problems with water quality, people’s health, biodiversity) are often higher than with organic farming. [2] If these costs were borne by conventional producers instead of by taxpayers, at least some of the costs would be passed on to the consumer, thus reducing the difference between retail prices for products of the two farming methods.

Another way in which (farm) prices can be reduced is by subsidies for organic production. They are provided in some European countries. The effect may be that the cost of production is lowered, and that the farmer can accept lower product prices in order to survive. This can be passed on to the consumer.

To obtain price premiums, organic products need to be certified as genuinely organic. In some countries certification is rather straightforward, as the infrastructure is in place. In others, any certification and especially one that is acceptable to enable international trade, can be a major problem, and rather costly.

Another issue is the availability of the market. Campaigns in favour of “domestic consumption” can enlarge the market for some producers, and restrict access for others.

So, in summary, separate marketing can be rather expensive for several reasons, including the low volume of product, the possibility of monopoly power in the trading sector and the requirements of a certification system. The taxing of pollution-causing inputs in conventional farming, and subsidies for organic farming can reduce the differences in consumer price for organically and conventionally grown products. Costs of certification to secure the possibility of (international) sales, possibly through international certification, can be a major problem (and very costly). An additional cost for producers in exporting countries is that they may have to fulfil the requirements (and organic standards) of several countries simultaneously. A separate problem for those countries is that the organic movement, especially in developed countries, may be focussed on local consumption, thus making market access for exporting countries more difficult.

Producer constraints in developing countries

A list of production constraints for developing countries closely resembles the problems applicable to organic farmers in general (Twarog and Vossenaar 2002):

·           technical know-how (due to few trained professionals in the field);

·           lack of organic production inputs (composting materials, biopesticides, biofertilisers);

·           lack of labour;

·           little research and development (varieties and production methods);

·           conversion method, with reduced yields, may be a larger obstacle than in developed countries;

·           infrastructure problems (e.g. transport and storage) for regular agriculture makes segregation of organic production even less likely;

·           limited market information and channels;

·           lack of acceptance by existing standards and certification, or the need to import certification expertise in order to be able to export.

A further issue of relevance to farmers who do not own their land, possibly more frequently the case in developing countries, is investment in soils. In organic agriculture, the emphasis is on soils, where improvements are seen as essential for nutrient and pest prevention management. In those countries where farmers own their land, or where leasing arrangements are such that land cannot be taken away from the user easily, investment in the land base is not a problem, as the returns are for the investor. However, where the farmer has no land-tenure, there is no incentive for the lessee to improve soil quality. Indeed, there may be a disincentive, as improvement of land quality may be directly linked to the land being withdrawn from the user.

Some further thougths

When listing producer constraints, it is important to realise that some issues relate to the scale and maturity of the industry, and will be resolved as the industry grows. That is, these problems are not intrinsic to the organic system, even though farmers may experience them as problems for the time being. For example, lack of information about organic practices is often mentioned as a major problem to convert to organic agriculture. Whereas this may be a problem for many prospective organic farmers at present, if future generations on organic farms continue to farm organically, a lot of the knowledge will be automatically transferred between generations — and to non-organic neighbours. Another example is the market for both inputs and outputs. There is no reason to believe that the markets for organic inputs, at least the physical ones, will behave differently from those operating for conventional farmers. The costs of processing and marketing organic produce should also decrease per unit of product, as the number of organic farmers increases. An increase in the number of traders could reduce the scope for monopoly rents. Finally, many of the problems that are genuine long-term problems for organic agriculture can be alleviated by government policies. This is the topic of the next section.

3. Policies: good for some, bad for others


Some countries realise that there is a role for government to play in the expansion of organic agriculture. As negative externalities in conventional farming are larger than in organic agriculture, they have decided that at least some government interference favouring organic agriculture (or adjusting the balance, some would say), is justified.

Inputs in organic agriculture often possess more of the public goods characteristic — a justification for government involvement — than in conventional farming. Changes in rotation, crop and livestock mixtures, biological processes involving predators and parasites etc. take the place of pesticides and fertilisers — private goods for which companies are willing to do research and advertising. Therefore, without government intervention, obtaining and dispersing knowledge about the most efficient use of many of the practices in organic agriculture will be carried out at a sub-optimal level. Also the development of a separate market, requiring standards and certification both for the domestic and international market, has public good aspects, and deserves government attention. Policy measures are therefore usually in the areas of subsidies for organic farmers, taxes for conventional farmers, research and extension, and product certification and harmonisation.

The last policy mentioned in this section refers also to markets. However, it is mainly a private initiative to influence the market availability for domestic producers.

Level of support

Agriculture is carried out rather intensively in many European countries, and population density is such that any negative effects of such farming would perhaps be felt earliest and most intensively by inhabitants/consumers in those countries. In addition, Europe is a region with a culture of supporting agriculture. Hence, it is not surprising to see that in Europe arguments for special aid for organic agriculture have resulted in subsidies in many areas. Under agri-environmental programmes in the European Union, direct payments to established and in-conversion farms amounted to ECU 260 million in 1996. In the same year subsidies were also provided for other purposes, such as research and development (ECU 15 million), advice, extension and information (ECU 15 million), regional development programmes (ECU 9-10 million), training and education (ECU 5-10 million) and marketing and processing (ECU 5-10 million) (Lampkin et al. 2000).

In the United States, direct subsidies for organic farming practices are considerably lower. There are no federal subsidy schemes for organic agriculture per se. States administer the agri-environmental cost-sharing programmes (such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program), for which only one state has classified organic farmers as being eligible. However, organic farmers do make use of the traditional commodity programmes and disaster payment programmes. Although this gives them an advantage as compared with foreign organic (and conventional) growers, it does not do so compared with the US conventional farmers. Research and education programmes for organic agriculture attracted USD 2 million (0.11% of the USDA research and extension appropriations) in 1995. [3] In 2001, USD 499 000 was allocated to the Organic Transition Program for research on conversion systems. In marketing, the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) contributed USD 48 520 for organic export promotion, representing approximately 0.05% of the USD 90 million spent on that programme in 2000. At present, organic farmers are exempt from a “tax” that producers within commodity groups place upon themselves to pay for research and advertising, on the basis that no research is conducted on organic farming. [4]

Although organic growers in other countries may well receive some support in one form or another, it will rarely be to the extent provided in Europe. Especially in developing countries, aid is often totally lacking. In some countries, governments may aid the industry, but compel them to pay for the cost of the service, or under-service. In Australia, for example, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS), part of the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, was instrumental in setting up standards and a compliance scheme for the export market in the early 1990s. (This, by the way, does not protect the word “organic” in the domestic market.) Attendance at meetings by the different national organisations involved in organic agriculture and standard-setting had to be financed by these organisations, no mean feat in a country where travel is expensive. More lately, the organic industry has been compelled to pay government a fee to oversee the scheme on a cost-recovery basis. [5] Costs of inspection and certification are paid fully by the producer, in addition to the cost of the AQIS export programme. In other cases, services provided may not even cover the payments by organic farmers. An example concerns research funding specifically for organic agriculture. Expenditure is estimated to be around USD 179 000 in 2000-2001, while organic farmers were levied USD 216 000 [6] for research purposes in that year (Wynen 2003).

Subsidies for organic growers

Organic farm subsidies have a number of direct and indirect effects. First of all, they allow farmers to sell their products cheaper than they otherwise could have done. This will affect the number of consumers who are willing to buy the produce, a very important aspect in building a market. At the same time, it is likely to affect the input prices into the production process, especially of land. This is the case because there is a conversion period for organic production, i.e. a threshold to entry. However, the price is not likely to rise too much, as other land can — in most cases — readily be converted to organic farming. The net effect for organic farmers is therefore an increase in income, depending on the price effect.

In countries where conventional farming is subsidised, (unintended) negative effects on organic agriculture by these general subsidies can occur. For example, due to a difference in crop mix on organic and conventional farms, EU policies (which pay different amounts for different enterprises) can deliver higher subsidies to conventional farms than to organic farms of the same size. This was the case, for example, in Denmark in 1996, where the average conventional farm received DKK 149 000 from EU subsidies, and the organic farm DKK 124 000 (equal farm size) (Wynen 1998). Part of the extra subsidies specifically for organic farming — DKK 53 000 — compensated for the shortfall in conventional subsidies, and could therefore rightly be deducted from the organic subsidy. Even so, compared to countries without a subsidy, this could still be considered a significant amount.

A second class of effects is created towards producers who do not receive subsidies. If they have similar costs to producers who receive subsidies, they will become less competitive, and may go out of business. This was recognised in the UK, where the Soil Association called for similar payments for organic farmers “…as UK farmers are currently disadvantaged” (Soil Association 2002). A similar argument is used at present in the United States — of US farmers being disadvantaged vis-à-vis European farmers (Lohr 2002). However, there are many countries in which organic producers cannot expect to ever be granted a subsidy. For those producers (often exporters from developing countries), European subsidies to organic production are a two-edged sword. On the one hand, they help develop the market into which exporters may be able to sell, and on the other hand they make the European product more competitive.

Farm subsidies in general can lead to inefficient use of resources, in organic agriculture as in conventional agriculture. In other words, subsidies in one country, by affecting the price level and the quantity of production (number of farmers who can stay in business), affect farmers in other countries. This can distort the true picture of efficiency in resource use between organic farmers in different countries: bad news from an environmental perspective.

The international organic movement presses for subsidies for organic agriculture, as this is its role. But these subsidies may have an indirect effect of limiting production in non-subsidised areas. It is important to realise that organic farmers in those countries are equally farming according to organic practices, and deserve as much support by those who are concerned about minimising the world’s use of resources in the quest for agricultural production. A more appropriate approach may therefore be to target the externalities generated in conventional farming.

Taxes on conventional farming methods

The market solution to the problem of ensuring that conventional farmers take more responsibilities for the externalities they cause is, in theory, reasonably straightforward, e.g. taxing the use of fertilisers and pesticides such that producers only use the amount of input that causes damage equal to the taxes paid. Scandinavian countries in particular have implemented such policies. For example, Denmark has taxed pesticides since the 1980s. Though it started with a modest rate of 3% in 1987, by the late 1990s this had risen to 33% for herbicides and fungicides and 53% for insecticides and soil disinfectants (Schou and Streibig 1999).

If the intention of taxes is to make farmers carry the burden of the total cost of the input, the practicalities of a tax are not quite clear. As fertilisers and pesticides have different effects on different soil types and under different climatic conditions, the use of the same amount of the same input does not create the same environmental damage. Making each farmer pay their particular cost is therefore difficult, and an assumption of average costs in cost calculations may therefore be most appropriate.

Research and extension

Lack of funding for organic research and extension is often pointed out, and the direction of research to promote organic agriculture has also been the topic of discussion. [7] In the past, the emphasis of research has often been on farm production techniques. For example, at the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements’ (IFOAM) Scientific Conference in 2000, almost half of the papers (and three‑quarters of the posters) were presented under production-related headings (soil, plants, animals). Approximately 15% of the papers were in the market development category (including standards and certification) and a similar figure for policies.

Very little effort has gone into analysing where the limited funding could best be spent to reach the goal of expanding organic agriculture (Wynen and Vanzetti 2000). One area that has been recognised as worthy of attention for example is that of consumer education, for example in Denmark. [8] A change in demand is expected to automatically pull the production along.

Research into more efficient use of inputs into organic farming will result, in the long run, in lower farm-gate prices, not in higher returns to farming. This means that, in an indirect way, fewer problems with production techniques result in decreased production costs, which are then passed on to the consumers.

Standards, certification and harmonisation

Product certification is an essential part of the viability of organic producers, and is important in international trade. Some countries, for example in Europe, have subsidised the setting up of these systems. State help was provided with the implementation of a national protection of the word “organic”, with suitable standards and certification schemes. The aim was to recompense the private standard setting and certification bodies for their involvement in regulatory activities. State help is also provided in a number of countries, both in the EU and the US, for the inspection and certification fees that farmers may otherwise have incurred. [9]

Despite the organic movement’s professed interest in local consumption of organic products (see below), there are a number of countries where exports are and will be of great relevance. In developing countries, export markets are essential for income generation, especially where premium prices can be secured in developed countries and less so domestically. In other cases, such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand, which have a high production potential and relatively low population density, domestic consumption could not take up total production. For those countries export is essential, and the question, then, is how this can be accommodated? [10]

In order to facilitate international trade, harmonisation of standards and certification over the world is needed. [11] This should not imply exactly the same standards for all countries. As agricultural conditions are dissimilar, flexibility in standards is required. IFOAM certainly recognises this. [12] However, for countries to be able to export to importing countries, their standards will need to be acceptable to the importing country. This may mean that standards need to be adopted which are not practicable to the exporting country. International trading rules permit countries to determine their own standards so long as they apply them equally to imported and domestically-produced goods. However, there is a danger that countries set particular standards to protect their own producers.

The two countries with the largest demand for organic produce, the EU and the US, have developed an organic certification scheme that deals not only with domestic organic certification and marketing, but also with international trade, that is, import issues.

EU regulations regarding imports have been in place since the early 1990s and are summarised here to provide a picture of the constraints for countries wishing to export to the EU. The EU allows three methods of import from third countries (Commins and Kung Wai 2002). First of all, the EU established a “third country list, which includes countries with which the EU has established equivalence. That is, products exported from those countries as “organic are accepted as such by the EU. At present, seven countries are on the list. [13] Products from other countries can be imported if the importer submits documentation that the products are produced and certified according to rules equivalent to those of the EU. This provision (the importer derogation) is scheduled to expire on 31 December 2005. Each consignment must have a separate authorisation. A third method of importing from third countries is to have an EU-approved certification body  within the exporting country  certify products. A recent regulation impacting on the marketing of organic products in the EU requires — for each consignment  an original “certificate of inspection for import of products from organic production”. This is to be produced by the approved authority or inspection body in the third country from where the goods are exported. It must be submitted to and endorsed by the authority of the EU member State where the product is imported, after which the product will be able to enter into free circulation within the EU.

The United States’ Department of Agriculture (USDA) can accredit certifying bodies (both domestic and foreign) to certify organic produce in third countries. In addition, foreign certifying bodies can be accredited if the USDA determines  at the request of a foreign government  that the accreditation of this body by that government complies with the USDA’s requirements. A third option is that the US and a foreign government have agreed upon equivalency of standards and certification procedures, so that imports from this country are acceptable.

For producers in many developing countries, and also in developed exporting countries, these requirements mean that export of organic produce may not be easy. Many developing countries do not have a domestic organisation that can carry out the required certification. Certification by international certification bodies then becomes essential, which is likely to be expensive. This may be an insurmountable problem, particularly for small-holders in developing countries. The need to comply with different standards in different markets would add to the cost of production and marketing. In addition, time delays, due to the requirement of documentation of each consignment, may well inhibit exports.

Market availability

Although rumblings about local production and consumption have been heard for a long time in the organic movement, they have increased in intensity over the last few years. The idea behind it is that local consumption would cut down on transport costs, and therefore be better for the environment (Geier 2001). While organic organisations may campaign for consumers choosing locally produced food, [14] the case for reduction in resource use through producing goods as efficiently as possible (through specialisation of production and international trade) seems forgotten or misunderstood (Vanzetti and Wynen 2002). Purchases of locally-produced products at higher prices than those which international trade allows, can accentuate non-optimal resource use to the detriment of people  and environments  in all countries. The concept of the whole life cycle evaluation in terms of resource use is well established (Meier-Ploeger, Kjer and Simon 1996), yet the importance is rarely mentioned when the issue of local food consumption comes up. Furthermore, exports of organic goods provide an important opportunity for many poor farmers in developing countries.

4. Conclusions

Concerns facing organic producers can be divided into two main groups. One is in the area of production (inputs with their effects on yield and total production) and the other is marketing (product prices, cost of marketing and market availability). In the early days, the production problems of farmers were emphasised, and research topics were often concentrated on soil, pests and diseases. More lately, as international trade of organic products has grown, the importance of market-related issues has come to the fore.

Direct subsidies to organic farming, to aid conversion or to compensate for more environmentally friendly practices, and other forms of subsidies, have been obtained in some countries but not in most. These cause advantages for some (including producers and consumers) and disadvantages for others (producers in exporting countries whose competitive edge decreases). Decreases in consumer prices are essential for a growth in the organic market, which will partly happen through increased production and maturity of the market. A further realisation is the need for harmonisation and equivalence in agriculture. Serious issues regarding non-tariff barriers (such as time delays due to the need for documentation for importing purposes) are raised. A push towards domestic consumption seems afoot, which could also be seen as a non-tariff barrier: organic producers in some developed countries protecting their patch against products from exporting countries.

Rather than dividing the organic movement through promoting policies that are good for some and bad for other producers, a more useful approach for all organic producers may be to encourage governments to initiate polluter-pays policies. A tax on pesticide and fertiliser use is one such example in agriculture. Though several countries in Europe have taken this approach, far more could be done. Such policies are likely to prove beneficial to organic producers, consumers and environmentalists in all countries.


Commins, K. and O. Kung Wai (2002), “Regulations of imports into major markets” in Harmonisation and Equivalence in Organic Agriculture, IFOAM Conference on Organic Guarantee Systems, Nuremberg, Germany, February.

FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Italy] (1996), Environment, Sustainability and Trade Linkages for Basic Foodstuffs, Rome.

FAO (1998), “Evaluating the potential contribution of organic agriculture to sustainability goals”, FAO’s technical contribution to IFOAM’s Scientific Conference, Mar del Plata, Argentina, 16‑19 November:

FAO (2000), Research methodologies in organic farming: on-farm participatory research, REU Technical Series No. 63, Rome, Italy:

Geier, B. (2001), Ecology & Farming Magazine, No.

IFOAM (2002), International Harmonisation and Equivalence in Organic Agriculture, Conference on Organic Guarantee Systems held by IFOAM in co-operation with FAO and UNCTAD, Nuremberg, Germany, February.

Jha, V. (forthcoming), “India”, chapter in Strengthening Research and Policy-Making Capacity on Trade and Environment in Developing Countries, UNCTAD, Trade, Environment and Development Branch, Geneva, Switzerland.

Krell, R. (ed.) (1998), “Biological Farming Research in Europe, REU Technical Series No. 54, FAO, Rome, Italy:

Lampkin, N. and S. Padel (eds) (1994), The Economics of Organic Farming — An International Perspective, CAB International, Wallingford, United Kingdom.

Lampkin, N., C. Foster, S. Padel and P. Midmore (1999), “The Policy and Regulatory Environment for Organic Farming in Europe” in Organic Farming in Europe: Economics and Policy, Volume 1, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany.

Lipson, M. (1997), Searching for the o-word, Organic Farming Research Foundation, Santa Cruz, California, United States of America.

Lohr, L. (2001), “The importance of the Conservation Security Act to US competitiveness in global organic markets”, Faculty Series 01-19, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Georgia, United States of America.

Meier-Ploeger, A., I. Kjer and K.-H. Simon (1996), Nutrition and Climate: the Influence of Food Processing, Transportation and Food Habits on the Atmosphere”, in KristensenN.H. and H. Høgh-Jensen (eds), Fundamentals of Organic Agriculture. Proceedings of the 11th IFOAM International Scientific Conference, Volume 2, Copenhagen, Denmark, 11-15 August, pp. 208‑216.

Michelsen, J., U. Hamm, E. Wynen and E. Roth (2000), “The European Market for Organic Products: Growth and Development”, report commissioned by the European Commission, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany.

Offermann, F. and H. Nieberg (2000), “Economic Performance of Organic Farms in Europe”, in Organic Farming in Europe: Economics and Policy, Volume 5, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany.

Pimentel, D., H. Acquay, M. Biltonen, P. Rice, M. Silva, J. Nelson, V. Lipner, S. Giordano, A. Horowitz and M. D’Amore (1993), “Assessment of environmental and economic impacts of pesticide use” in D. Pimentel and H. Lehman (eds), The Pesticide Question: Environment, Economics and Ethics, Chapman and Hall, New York, United States of America, pp. 47-84.

Redman, M. (1996), Industrial Agriculture: Counting the Costs, Soil Association, United Kingdom.

Schou, J. and J. Streibig (1999), “Pesticide taxes in Scandinavia”, Pesticide Outlook, December, pp. 227-229.

Soil Association (2002), “Response to NFU survey of organic farmers”, Press Statement, 25 July: .

Stolze, M., A. Piorr, A. Haring and S. Dabbert (2000), “The Environmental Impacts of Organic Farming in Europe”, in Organic Farming in Europe: Economics and Policy, Volume 6, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany.

Twarog, S. and R. Vossenaar (2002), Obstacles facing developing country exports of organic products to developed country markets in IFOAM, International Harmonisation and Equivalence in Organic Agriculture, Conference on Organic Guarantee Systems held by IFOAM in co-operation with FAO and UNCTAD, February, Nuremberg, Germany.

UNCTAD (2003), Strengthening Research and Policy-making Capacity on Trade and Environment in Developing Countries, Geneva.

Vanzetti, D. and E. Wynen (2002), “Does it make sense to buy locally produced organic products?” in Hall, D. and J. Moffitt (eds) Economics of Pesticides, Sustainable Food Production and Organic Food Markets, Elsevier, pp. 195-208:

Wynen, E. (1992), “Conversion to Organic Agriculture in Australia: Problems and Possibilities in the Cereal-Livestock Industry”, report funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia. A summary can be found at:

Wynen, E. (1998), Organic Agriculture in Denmark – Economic Implications of a Widespread Change, Danish Institute of Agricultural and Fisheries Economics, Report No. 99, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Wynen, E. (2000), “Bio-dynamic and conventional irrigated dairy farming in Australia: an economic analysis”, Agribusiness Perspectives, Paper 50:

Wynen, E. (2001), “The economics of organic cereal-livestock farming in Australia revisited”, proceedings of the RIRDC Inaugural Conference on Organic Agriculture, Sydney, Australia, 27-28 August:

Wynen, E. (2003), “Organic farming in Australia: Research levies and expenditure”. Report for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Canberra, Australia: .

Wynen, E. and D. Vanzetti (2000), “Research in organic agriculture - Assessment and future directions” in David, C., G. Allard and J. Henning (eds), Organic Agriculture Faces its Development: the Future Issues. 12èmes Entretiens Jacques Cartier ISARA — Université LAVAL-INRA: .


[1].                 FAO (1998): “Due to slow mineralization of nitrogen under cool growing-conditions, crops on organic farms have a shortage of nitrogen early in the season. However, in countries where low soil temperature is not a limiting growth factor, as in many developing countries, this factor should not prove significant.

[2].                 See, for example, work carried out by Pimentel et al. (1993); FAO (1996); Redman (1996); Stolze, et al. (2000).

[3].                 See also Lipson (1997).

[4].                 Luanne Lohr, Associate Professor Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Georgia, Athens, personal communications (August 2002), and Lohr (2001).

[5].                 “The AQIS organic program will directly cost the Australian organic and biodynamic industry A$84,500 (approx. US$46,500) for the 2002-03 financial year. This sum is divided into seven certifying bodies…and I assume is then passed onto approx 1 700 clients Australia wide.” Ian Lyall, Food Program, AQIS, personal communications, August 2002.

[6].                 In general, the government tops up farmers’ research levies. If this is added to the levies on organic farmers, the total amounts to USD 360 000.

[7].                          See, for example, Krell (1998); FAO (2000); Lipson (1997); Lockeretz (2000); and Wynen and Vanzetti (2000).

[8].                 See, for example, Wynen and Vanzetti (2000), and Lampkin et al. (1999).

[9].                 Lampkin et al. (1999).

[10].               There are countries where a large part of the organic production is sold in the conventional market. For example in Australia, 72% of all organic wheat is sold as organic, half of the organic milk, one-third of the beef, and only 10% of the mutton and wool. The rest of the production of these products is sold in the conventional market (Wynen, forthcoming). Michelsen et al. (2000) mentioned that, in the Czech Republic “…only few organic products were reported sold as organic and price premiums were not obtained for most products”. Also, in India, a large part of the organically-grown produce is sold on the conventional market (Jha, forthcoming).

[11].               See IFOAM (2002).

[12].               See IFOAM’s website: under “Variations in Standards”.

[13].               Argentina, Australia, the Czech Republic, Israel, Hungary, New Zealand and Switzerland.

[14].               See press release by the Soil Association, United Kingdom, 8 July 2002, “New Partnership Launched to Promote Local Food”: