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MN organic farms were profitable

Despite flooding and drought, organic farmers in Minnesota had a profitable year in 2012 according to a new report released by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Average and median net farm income for both crop and dairy farms were up substantially, although there was a high degree of variability among farm sizes and between the most and least profitable farms.

The 2012 Minnesota Organic Farm Performance report summarizes financial data reported by 56 certified organic farmers, for both whole farm and for individual cropping and dairy enterprises. It also includes historical data for the four previous years. The report can be viewed on the MDA website at

The report, which includes an analysis by the Center for Farm Financial Management (CFFM), shows that for key financial measures, such as rate of return on assets, rate of return on equity, and liquidity, organic farms generally performed very well. Rate of return on assets and on equity were both strong, debt repayment capacity improved, and most farms entered 2013 in a strong liquidity position.

MDA’s organic program administrator, Meg Moynihan, says the report provides useful information.

“Organic farmers can use this report to shine a light on their own farm’s performance, said Moynihan. “By benchmarking their farm financial information against a group of their peers, they can get insights into areas where the farm is doing well, and where it may be falling short,” she said.

Moynihan added that farmers who are considering a transition to organic production can use the report to get an idea of what they might expect in terms of yields, production costs, and profitability.

The MDA’s systematic collection of organic farm data started in 2006 and is unique to Minnesota. Farmers participate voluntarily and their privacy is strictly protected.

The farms in this report, along with several thousand other nonorganic operations, participate in farm business management education programs offered by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Their data is analyzed and published by the CFFM in a public database called FINBIN