Poultry producer Bell & Evans partners with Cargill, Rodale Institute to expand U.S. organic acreage

Bell & Evans President Scott Sechler
Bell & Evans President Scott Sechler

One of the nation’s leading producers of premium poultry is partnering with Cargill and soil health non-profit Rodale Institute to incentivize the transition of 50,000 conventional acres to certified organic over the next five years.

President Scott Sechler says Pennsylvania-based Bell & Evans is experiencing significant growth in its organic chicken program, increasing its need for organic corn and soybeans grown in the U.S.

“People pay us good money for certified organic Bell & Evans chicken, and people should know when they buy our chicken they can feel good because it was really produced on certified organic grains.”

Bell and Evans recently announced a long-term sourcing agreement with Cargill to exclusively secure its organic grain and increase the domestic organic grain supply.  As part of the agreement, Sechler tells Brownfield Cargill will reward U.S. farmers making the transition through subsidized organic crop consulting services provided by Rodale Institute.

“So the farmers benefit, the environment benefits, lots of things benefit by something if it’s really done the way you paid for.”

He says with Bell and Evans’ investment of $500 million, often vocalized hurdles to transitioning organic will be addressed.  He suggests the most common are knowing where to start and guaranteeing a market following a three-year transition period.

Sechler also points out just one percent of total U.S. acreage is certified organic, yet the organic food market has grown into a $50 billion industry.

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