Even though specialty grains offer a price premium, those premiums are usually not enough for smaller producers — 500-600 acres or fewer — to make farming a full-time job. But organic grains, a form of specialty crop, might do the trick, says Purdue University ag economist Corinne Alexander.

“Experts are forecasting growth rates for organic products at 10-20% annually over the medium term,” Alexander points out. “One of the fastest growing markets is feed grains for organic dairies, meat and poultry producers.”

Alexander says Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania accounted for 40% of the organic milk production in recent years and substantial flocks of organic layer hens, broilers and turkeys. There also are organic layer hens in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. Organic grain growers in those states and nearby states have market potential, Alexander says.

Check with your state Extension Service or state Department of Agriculture for information on organic grain buyers or organic grower groups in your area.