Date on Honors Thesis



Economics and Finance

Examining Committee Member

David Eaton, PhD, Advisor

Examining Committee Member

Narine Badasyan, PhD, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Sunayan Acharya, PhD, Committee Member


Recently in the organic food industry, more lines of organic food are being introduced in stores as demand for organic products continues to grow. The organic food industry has witnessed high price premiums in the past which, according to economic theory, would in a perfectly competitive market attract entry until those price premiums decreased to the point where economic profits were zero. However, the USDA’s National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, or NOCCSP, was introduced in its current form in 2009 and offers reimbursement for farmers who are already certified with certification or recertification costs for their organic farming operation. Since the program only reimburses farmers who have endured the required three year transition period, during which a farmer cannot sell their products as organic and receives no price premium and lower yields, a question arises: Is the NOCCSP functioning as an effective barrier to entry and keeping potential farmers out of the market who cannot be first certified to qualify to receive a reimbursement from the NOCCSP? Utilizing state-level data from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Census of Agriculture, this paper strives to discover if growth in the organic food industry is inorganic and taking place among farms already certified and utilizing the NOCCSP. If price premiums remain high while the NOCCSP is in place, that may be indicative of the program serving as an effective barrier to entry and helping existing organic farmers maintain economic rents.