Travis Heide converts 40,000 acres to organic production
By Diego Flammini
A Melfort, Sask. farmer is on his way to owning the country’s largest organic operation.
Travis Heide started farming about 7,000 acres of conventional cash crops four years ago. Since then he’s increased his operation to about 40,000 acres and has incrementally transitioned to organic production.
His plan is to produce organic crops across his entire operation by 2020. His farm’s rotation currently includes wheat, peas, lentils, chickpeas, flax and alfalfa.
“This year we’re about 50/50,” he told Global News Thursday. “Next year, 75 per cent essentially of what we’re farming will be organic and the following year 100 per cent. But that’s if we don’t add anything more.”
Part of Heide’s decision to transition to organic production came from an input cost and revenue discrepancy.
Producers are paying higher prices for crop inputs but are not seeing higher returns. Eliminating potential costs from the equation could help the bottom line, he said.
“I couldn’t believe through all these years the grain prices hadn’t really changed yet farmers were spending more, they were risking more (and) they were growing more but they were almost being paid the same price although their costs had doubled and tripled,” he told Global News.
Heide also hopes his venture can be an example for new farmers.
“If what we’re doing can help open some doors and can show a glimmer of hope to farmers, that’s what we’re excited about,” he told Global News.
Canada was home to about 2.43 million organic cropland acres in 2015, the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) says.
Farms.com has reached out to Heide for more information on his farm’s transition.