Growing profits through organic trade

Sandhill Farm in Scotland County, Mo.

Itâ??s about 45 minutes northeast of Kirksville, and tucked away off a dusty gravel road. You may know it as Sandhill Farm, but for the residents who live there, itâ??s much more than a farm. Itâ??s a way of life.

"The farm was founded in 1974, so 40 years now,â?? said Stan Hildebrand, the longest-tenured member of this community. â??We grow a lot of produce but we also make them into food products such as salsa, mustard, horseradish and our main crop is sorghum syrup."

They also grow apples, peaches, corn, blackberries, cantaloupe and lots more. Anything and everything you'd want, youâ??ll find throughout the 135 acres. In fact, since the first seed was planted four decades ago, it has all been organic.

"The main thing thatâ??s different from conventional farming is that the management practices are very different,â?? Hildebrand explained. â??Chemical farmers generally use treated seed and then they use chemicals to control the weeds and pests. We depend on the vitality and vigor of the seed to come up by itself and we control weeds mechanically by cultivation.â??

Organic farming is a passion for the people who live here. So naturally, they're excited that a processed organic trade agreement was finalized between the United States and South Korea earlier this month. The goal is to expand the organic food industry while also making it easier and less expensive for farmers to distribute their product overseas. According to grow industry estimates, the U.S. exported approximately $35 million dollars of processed organic products to South Korea last year. With the new agreement now making the process easier, the organic market in Asia is expected to grow.

"There are buyers who contract with individual farmers that buy our corn, soybeans, wheat, whatever,â?? Hildebrand said. â??Some of those products go directly to Korea or they get fed to animals that are also sold there. So along the chain it works out so that it comes back down to the farm and it increases our market as individual farmers.â??

Similar deals have already been established with Canada, Japan and the European Union. With the organic movement getting more and more popular by the year, for the residents of Sandhill Farm, that tastes pretty good.

To learn more about Sandhill Farm, click here.

For more information about the new trade agreement, click here.