Drought was a significant setback for many farmers who attended the annual Midwest Farm Show today, but not all of them.
Organic Valley says their coop faired the drought a lot better than most conventional farms. One reason why is the use biological materials that are integrated into organic farming.
"Because of the drought, I mean, it did affect us," said Glen Hoff, Organic Valley Farmer Outreach and Events Coordinator. "But we also use biological farming, organic farming, which is using more cover crops, we have more organic matter generally in the soil. So our soils hold more moisture. And in a lot of areas we've had some of the best crops ever."
Hoff said farmers that are part of the Organic Valley Coop are educating each other and brainstorming ways to minimize impacts of future droughts. One way is through barley production.
"Barley's turned out to be a fascinating and wonderful crop for organic farmers," said Greg Welsh, Organic Valley Pools Department Outreach Coordinator. "Because it's easier to grow than corn, it doesn't need the insecticides and herbicides that corn does, and it has about the same feed value that corn has. So we tell our farmers that organic barley is the new corn."
Welsh said that Barley takes less water to grow, is a good source of nutrition for cows, and doesn't affect the taste of milk. And with corn prices soaring, many farmers this year have been looking for feed alternatives.
"At 15, 16 dollars a bushel, our farmers can't afford to feed it," said Hoff. "So, there's a balancing point there. You know, three years ago the price of organic corn was $5. That's too low. Because then our crop farmers weren't making a living. So there's got to be a balancing point in the middle.
Hoff said the price of organic corn has recently dropped and attributes the fall to farmers finding alternatives to corn feed.
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