The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making nearly $2 million in investments to help support the organic industry. A total of $1.73 million in funding is being made available to expand the oversight capacity within the sector. The funding for the effort is being made possible through the Human Capital Capacity Building Initiative. Managed by the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) National Organic Program, the initiative aims to support the long-term growth of the organic industry.
“Organic farmers, ranchers, businesses and consumers all rely on a fair and competitive organic market founded on the work of skilled certifiers and inspectors,” Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt said in a news release. “The projects also emphasize diversity and inclusion to address the needs of historically underserved communities and regions. We are building tools to strengthen today’s organic inspectors, and to develop the next generation of diverse, well-qualified organic professionals.”
The initiative is designed to expand the pool of qualified inspectors, reviewers, and other professionals within the organic sector. Bolstering the organic certification workforce will serve as a means of meeting the future demands of a growing industry. Projects funded through the initiative will support all areas from initial workforce development to establishing further resources for existing professionals. The effort seeks to strengthen consistency, fairness, and the integrity of organic oversight through the expansion of support resources.
Nine projects are being supported through the initiative. Some of the projects include Developing Cooperative Support for Organic Professionals, Building a Sustainable and Inclusive Apprenticeship Program for Organic Inspectors and Other Organic Professionals, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Resources for Organic Professionals. Overall, the projects will support a variety of efforts to develop recruitment strategies, training programs, mentorships, apprenticeships, and other forms of professional development. AMS will be making any resources developed through the initiative available to the public.