Rising demand for organic and non-GMO foods led to a sharp rise in organic grain imports last year. A new report by CoBank says U.S. production of non-GMO crops has risen, but domestic production for organic corn and soybeans remains well short of current U.S. demand. Food manufacturers are currently exploring new incentives for U.S. growers to transition to organic production, but the transition takes years, a roadblock one CoBank researcher says is “likely holding some U.S. growers back from taking advantage of the market opportunity.”
CoBank says demand for both non-GMO and organic crops will continue to grow and, ultimately, monetary incentives will determine whether U.S. growers choose to close the supply deficit. Imports of organic grains from countries such as India, Ukraine, Romania, and Turkey surged in 2016 to meet U.S. demand for organic food products. Organic corn imports more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, and the domestic shortfall for organic soybeans was even greater, with roughly 80 percent of soybeans supplying the U.S. organic market imported in 2016.