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Mercaris CEO Talks Importance of Supporting Organic Farmers

by Shawna Rodgers |

In 2018, the CCOF Foundation hosted an intimate lunch at Natural Products Expo East. About six blocks from the trade show floor in Baltimore, a quiet but confident teenage girl stood in front of longtime organic industry professionals and told them her story. That girl was Shannon Good, who received a grant from the CCOF Foundation to support her studies in organic agriculture. Adults, many of whom were three or more decades into their careers, were moved to tears as Good shared how the funding she received from the CCOF Foundation allowed her to save some of her family’s dairy cows and start her own business. She was just a junior in high school.

In the audience was Mercaris, a company that has provided insights into organic and non-GMO crop and ingredient prices in addition to a trading platform dedicated to identity-preserved commodities for almost a decade. Upon hearing Good’s story, Mercaris immediately became a CCOF Foundation donor.

“Mercaris is proud to partner with the CCOF Foundation because of the vital work they do with farmers, the values of the organic movement CCOF demonstrates as well as the important problems – from climate change to diversity and inclusion – they are tackling,” said Kellee James, founder and CEO of Mercaris. “Our team at Mercaris looks at CCOF’s work as a force multiplier of our own mission and goals.”

In 2022, the CCOF Foundation is on track to give more than $100,000 to the next generation of organic farmers, more than $100,000 to organic farmers in need, and more than $120,000 to Latinx farm workers in partnership with ALBA and Daily Harvest as they venture out to become organic farm owners (a program inspired by the Rustic Canyon Family restaurant group based in southern California). Mercaris represents one of nearly 100 businesses, foundations, industry leaders, and nonprofits across the United States currently funding this work.

Comcast Ventures’ Catalyst Fund is an investor in Mercaris, making it “the seventh company led by an entrepreneur of color, in its rapidly growing portfolio of companies.” James describes Mercaris in the Comcast article:

“Mercaris is a market data service, and on-line trading platform for organic, non-GMO and other certified agricultural commodities.  Our lofty mission is to communicate data on commodities that have environmentally beneficial attributes.  We make it possible for everyone in the supply chain, from farmers to food manufacturers, to track prices, volumes and other statistics for organic corn, or non-GMO soybeans.  We also allow buyers and sellers of raw commodities to meet and trade online.”

Mercaris recently launched its new CONNECT program, wherein growers can contribute to an ongoing price survey for organic crops and receive free access to organic row crop price and market trend data, as well as gain access to buyers, input providers, and many more along the organic supply chain looking to partner with growers to create unique opportunities to increase farm profitability. Learn more and sign up at