New Organic Transition Initiative to Address Several Industry Needs

Brian GermanFunding, Organic

As much as $300 million will be made available through a new Organic Transition Initiative from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program is part of the Food System Transformation Framework. USDA has acknowledged the climate and environmental benefits associated with organic production, along with the barriers to entry into the sector. The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has indicated that this type of support is imperative for allowing the industry to continue to scale up and meet the growing demand for organic products.

Organic Transition Initiative

 “USDA’s new Organic Transition Initiative will jumpstart that growth by making the organic transition process more accessible and impactful; particularly for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, who experience unique challenges to accessing resources and support programs,” OTA CEO and Executive Director Tom Chapman said in a press release. “This historic investment in food production, which increases options for American farmers to ‘adopt practices that are both good for their businesses and the climate,’ is a significant win for our industry.”

According to USDA, the Organic Transition Initiative will provide producers with technical assistance which will include farmer-to-farmer mentoring. The initiative will also provide direct financial support along with additional crop insurance assistance. Market development projects in select markets will also be supported through the initiative. Provisions of the new initiative are in line with what groups such as OTA and the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) have historically been advocating for.

“In the past year, OFRF has had numerous meetings with USDA officials and provided in-depth written comments on how the agency can best support farmers and ranchers transitioning to organic production systems,” said Brise Tencer, OFRF Executive Director.

In a recent report from OFRF, resources such as mentoring and peer-to-peer support systems were identified as some of the most impactful methods for obtaining information. The National Organic Research Agenda pointed out that the development of markets was a pressing concerned for organic farmers that were surveyed as well.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West