Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Costs, Considerations Of Switching To Natural Or Organic Agricultural Methods

Date:
April 24, 2008
Source:
Kansas State University
Summary:
The definition of "organic" is defined by the US Department of Agriculture; "natural," however, can be defined differently depending on who's doing the labeling. But both terms mean one thing: higher costs for producers. That's why researchers hope to provide another tool to help those in the beef industry pondering whether to abandon conventional methods and go natural or organic.

When Kansas State University graduate student Ben Wileman was a practicing veterinarian in Belle Fourche, S.D., natural and organic labels were a big focus for the beef producers he saw.

Related Articles


"They tended to be terms that were thrown around a lot, but few people really seemed to know what they truly meant," Wileman said.

The definition of "organic" is defined by U.S. Department of Agriculture; "natural," however, can be defined differently depending on who's doing the labeling. But both terms mean one thing: higher costs for producers. That's why Wileman hopes that his research will be another tool to help those in the beef industry pondering whether to abandon conventional methods and go natural or organic.

Wileman, a doctoral student in diagnostic medicine and pathobiology at K-State, is examining the economics and logistics of conventionally raised beef versus organic and naturally raised beef. He is working with Dan Thomson, associate professor of clinical sciences at K-State. The research was presented in February at the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas and will be presented again in July at the American Veterinary Medicine Association conference in New Orleans.

"The reason we're looking at this is because before anyone decides to go all-natural or all-organic, they need to be aware of what it's going to cost them and cost consumers," Wileman said. "We want producers to be knowledgeable about what to expect in terms of performance and economics."

Although the scientific facets of organic foods have been probed, Wileman said that little research has been done on the economic impact. Using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the K-State researchers considered feed costs and availability, the number of organic grain producers, the supply and demand for such grains going to beef cattle, and the performance impacts. They found that a producer would have to make about $120 more per head on naturally finished cattle to make the same profit as they would have on conventionally finished ones. For organically finished cattle, that increases to about $400 more per head.

The greatest contributing factor to the cost of going natural or organic is feed prices, Wileman said. In areas where there are relatively few certified-organic grain producers, transporting and certifying grain adds a major expense.

What's more, Wileman said, is that research done at K-State shows that beef producers are competing for a mere 2 percent of a consumer's income. He said another thing to keep in mind is research showing that most growth in organic and natural food items has come from the same shoppers buying more products, not from an increase in the numbers of like-minded consumers.

With this in mind, Wileman said there are a few things that the beef industry should consider when contemplating going organic or natural. Producers need to consider that they won't be able to feed their cattle in the same way and may consider forming cooperatives to meet their needs. Likewise, feedlots must be mindful of feed handling to prevent mixing organic grains with conventionally grown grains. Finally, packagers and restaurants need to know that they will have to absorb the increased costs of going natural or organic -- or be prepared to pass those costs on to their consumers.

The K-State researchers don't want to dissuade producers and others in the beef industry from going natural or organic, but they do want to offer information that can help them make that decision.

"There's not a problem with going natural or organic, but there will be production and economic issues that they will need to compensate for," Wileman said. "We want to be able to show what the implications of going organic or natural are before a producer or corporation makes that decision."

Because much of the scientific research on organic foods has centered on fruits and vegetables, Wileman said there is plenty of room to study the performance aspects of organic and natural beef production. For instance, he said that some research already has shown that natural diets can increase the prevalence of liver abscesses in cattle. Little is known about how these diets might affect other diseases like foot rot, he said.

"There are a lot more questions that need to be answered," he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Kansas State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Kansas State University. "Costs, Considerations Of Switching To Natural Or Organic Agricultural Methods." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080422150655.htm>.
Kansas State University. (2008, April 24). Costs, Considerations Of Switching To Natural Or Organic Agricultural Methods. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080422150655.htm
Kansas State University. "Costs, Considerations Of Switching To Natural Or Organic Agricultural Methods." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080422150655.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins