COLUMBIA, S.C. — With the demand for certified organic foods rising steadily among health-conscious consumers, more farmers are taking the time and making the effort to seek organic certification.

Once officially certified, farmers can use the U.S. Department of Agriculture organic seal with their products, which include crops, livestock and even processed items, such as packaged soups.

The certification process has a reputation as being daunting and expensive, but Clemson University, a USDA-accredited certifying agent, is working to make it more accessible and affordable for South Carolina farmers, food processors, greenhouse operators, coffee roasters, restaurants owners and a variety of other clients. Here are several reasons Clemson wants these clients to have access to the organic marketplace:

Organic products generally sell at prices 20 to 50 percent higher than their non-organic counterparts;

Consumers respect organic products and those who produce them; and

The practices used by organic farmers tend to build healthy soils, recycle farm nutrients and reduce pollutants, all of which is good for the environment.