Organic Education: Increasing Opportunities for Farmers and Processors

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2006: $114,811.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: berries (brambles)
  • Animals: bovine, poultry
  • Animal Products: meat


  • Education and Training: general education and training

    Proposal abstract:

    Out migration, an aging producer base, and limited job opportunities are serious concerns in North Dakota communities. By increasing producers’ and regional processors’ profit margins, farm families and regional processors can sustain their rural way of life. Organic markets offer significant opportunities for Midwestern producers and processors. Organic markets are predicted to grow at a rate of 13.8 percent in the next five years, with some products such as organic meat and poultry growing even more quickly. This project, proposed by the Foundation for Agricultural and Rural Resources Management and Sustainability (FARRMS), will educate farmers and processors about organic methods in order to increase their profit margin by entering into these niche markets. This project will focus on two related outcomes: 1) increasing farmers’ knowledge and implementation of organic farming practices and 2) increasing farmers and processors’ awareness of and actual regional product marketed through segregated and organic markets. This project will be tailored to address the needs of transitioning organic farmers and processors. It will also work to link these two groups together to bolster the region’s economy by creating new regional organic markets. Two education programs will be developed and implemented in the course of this project: 1) increasing organic agricultural practices, and 2) growing organic processing and niche markets. FARRMS will convene focus groups of farmers and processors to determine the content of these educational programs. With the help of an evaluation consultant, FARRMS will develop an on-going evaluation process including a producer/stakeholder evaluation team, which will meet at least once annually to evaluate the project’s progress and plan adjustments in the program as needed.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The Foundation for Agricultural and Rural Resources Management and Sustainability (FARRMS) was established to serve the region in exploring and implementing practices and methods, which further the sustainability of farms and rural communities. This project is designed with the long-term outcome of increasing farmers’ and processors’ profit margins by entering into organic markets. The project also strives to create additional markets for all organic farmers in the region by growing the number of regional organic processors. Together these steps will help keep farm families on the farm and local processors in the region and ultimately help sustain rural communities.

    Phase 1 of the project will be the establishment of an education and mentoring program focusing on organic agriculture methods. The target audiences for this phase will be beginning farmers and conventional farmers considering transition into organic production.

    • Short-Term Outcome 1: Increasing conventional and new farmers’ and processors’ knowledge of organic farming practices.
    • Intermediate Outcome 1: Increasing the number of farmers implementing organic practices in North Dakota.

    Phase 2 of this project will be the establishment of an education program about organic processing and niche markets. The target audiences for this phase of the project include organic farmers and regional processors. Marketing opportunities will arise as a result of growers and processors connecting with each other at the educational events and as new products are developed.

    • Short-Term Outcome 2: Increasing farmers’ and processors’ awareness of organic and niche markets, which have the potential to increase profit margins.
    • Intermediate Outcome 2: Increasing the number of regional processors marketing organic products and sourcing regional organic raw products.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.