“Growing by leaps and bounds”Several feed suppliers report exponential growth with requests for feed coming from all over the country.
“The demand is huge,” says Dan Masters, president of Ohio-based Hiland Naturals, which supplies non-GMO and organic soy- and non-soy feeds. Masters says his company is seeing 40% growth per month and will open three more facilities by the end of the year.
“It’s growing by leaps and bounds,” says John Yantis, owner and manager, Texas Natural Feeds, which sells non-GMO feeds primarily for chickens. Yantis has seen his sales have increased from 20 tons per month to 100 this year and says it could soon reach 150 tons.
"Diana Ambauen-Meade, owner of Washington state-based Scratch and Peck Feeds, sees similar growth. “We see it growing exponentially every month. This time last year we were selling 100 tons a month and now it’s pushing 270 tons per month,” she says.
“In the past two years we have seen a 150% growth in customers and demand for all of our non-GMO feed products,” says Spencer Sorenson, mill manager for Oregon-based Buxton Feed Company.
Will non-GMO displace organic?Steve Chambers, president of Montana Specialty Mills, sees stronger demand for organic feed than non-GMO. “The organic feed market is developed while non-GMO is transitioning to become more established,” he says.
In fact, Chambers is concerned that the growth of non-GMO could hurt organic farmers. “Will it displace organic farming? Non-GMO could come at the expense of farmers who are trying to do everything right. It is one aspect of crop production but allows farmers to continue using chemicals. Organic is the whole package?” Montana Specialty Mills, Hiland Naturals, and Texas Natural Feeds also sell organic feeds; all Scratch and Peck feeds are non-GMO and organic.
Non-GMO feeds are made from a range of ingredients including corn and soybeans, field peas, alfalfa, grains such as wheat, oats, barley, and milo, and protein meals from soy, canola, safflower, camelina, flax, and peanut. Some feeds will have one or two ingredients while others will have many. Non-GMO feeds are given to hogs, dairy and beef cattle, chickens, turkeys, goats, horses, rabbits, and even elk and deer.
Increased consumer awareness driving demandSuppliers say that growing consumer awareness of GMOs is driving demand. “There is an increased awareness of GMO and non-GMO in the past year or so with states trying to pass GMO labeling laws,” says Darwin Rader, international sales manager, Zeeland Farm Services, Inc.
“There’s more awareness of what GMOs to do humans and animals,” says Sheldon Swartzentruber, sales representative with Missouri-based Hostetler’s Feed and Farm Supply, which supplies non-GMO feeds for hogs, dairy cows, and chickens. “People are getting the connection that what people feed their animals is very important,” says Ambauen-Meade.
She and Yantis also attribute the strong non-GMO demand to the growing backyard chicken raising trend.
Whole Foods’ announcement last spring that they would require GMO labels on products in their stores by 2018 is also driving demand for non-GMO feed. “I had a lot of supply before Whole Foods’ announcement but now we’re moving product,” says James Frantzen, who recently launched a non-GMO feed operation in Riceville, Iowa."
These statements are supporting the demand for more non GMO crops. Many of my friends are asking me about my non GMO program to see if they can develop one for their farm.
What do you think?