One of the options farmers may consider as an alternative to growing commodity corn and soybeans is raising organic crops or livestock. But in order for them to grow organic, someone needs to raise and offer organic seed.
Beck’s helps fill that niche through its division called Great Harvest Organics. Recently, Scott Beck, president of the seed company, sat down with Indiana Prairie Farmer to explain why the company includes a division that offers organic seed.
IPF: How did your company become involved in the organic seed business?
Beck: Back in the fall of 2002, we had an opportunity to get into this market. It appeared to be a growing market. The growth [in demand] at that time for seed was about 20% per year, and it has continued to be a double-digit increase in the years since then. We saw it as an opportunity to offer products to farmers who were doing something different.
IPF: What crops do you offer through organic seed sales?
Beck: We sell organic seed for corn, soybeans and wheat. We have also sold some seed for organic alfalfa in the past.
IPF: Who operates the Great Harvest Organics business?
Beck: Today we have an employee dedicated to sales and operation of organic seed. Dave Ross is the Great Harvest Organics sales and operation lead.
IPF: Do you have facilities devoted to processing organic seed?
Beck: Most of the processing and distribution of Great Harvest Organics products happens out of our facility in El Paso, Ill. The duties of selling and operating Great Harvest Organics were often split between different people until recently. Now Dave can devote full time to that effort.
IPF: Is that the only thing that happens at the El Paso facility?
Beck: No, we use the facility for our regular seed sales activities, too. Organic seed is still a small part of what we do. However, it’s a way to serve farmers who are trying something different. We also sell a sizable amount of cover crop seed through our Beck’s dealers. That is also another effort to meet the changing needs of farmers. Both organic seed and cover crop seed round out our product offerings to customers.