Region 8 organic farmer discusses ups and downs

BRAGGADOCIO, MO (KAIT) - It may look like any typical harvesting process for corn, but it's the way this crop is grown that's different for this part of the country: it's organic.

According to Dr. J. Kim Pittcock very few farmers in Region 8 or even Arkansas farm organically.

"It's very small I believe in Arkansas they say the production of organic is like 1%," says Pittcock.

We did find one U.S.D.A. certified organic farmer in Braggadocio, Missouri.

Steve McKaskle made the switch in the 1990's when he realized how much more of a profit he could turn with organics.

"As far as business is concerned we are fulfilling a marketing niche," says McKaskle.

He is focusing mainly on organically grown rice, soybeans and popcorn, but he's learned it's a little extra compensation with a lot of extra work.

He says not being able to apply weed killer is one of the reasons it's so tough.

He blames it on all the rain we get verses a drier area like California,

"They're controlling the water when to water and they can therefore control the weeds more easily than we can."

He says rotation is a great way around using chemicals.

"When we rotate the soybeans we can control or kill the weeds that are most prevalent in rice and I have some fields that people need to see this year," says McKaskle.

He is now packaging and selling his own products to grocery chains, but he says the last thing he's trying to do is step on the toes of conventional farmers.

"We plan on continuing our organic role in agriculture and we invite anyone else that would like to join us to come aboard," says McKaskle.

Again McKaskle is inviting anyone interested in starting the organic process to call or e-mail him at smckaskle@gmail.com.

©2010 KAIT All rights reserved.