A new Organic Transition Initiative is being supported by an investment of up to $300 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The goal is to develop better marketing opportunities for the organic sector and help farmers with moving into organic production. The new initiative is being supported by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, Risk Management Agency, and Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“Through this multi-phased, multi-agency initiative, we are expanding USDA’s support of organic farmers to help them with every step of their transition as they work to become certified and secure markets for their products,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release.
With some of the funding support coming from the American Rescue Plan, USDA has identified four main areas of focus for the Organic Transition Initiative. Up to $100 million will be allocated for the Transition to Organic Partnership Program, to provide direct farmer training and education. A new Organic Management conservation practice standard will be developed using up to $75 million. Up to $100 million will be used for making supply chain improvements. Finally, $25 million will be used for the development of the new Transitional and Organic Grower Assistance Program to assist producers with crop insurance coverage.
“Organic farming brings environmental and economic benefits to communities across the country, but has historically been under-invested in,” said Organic Farming Research Foundation Executive Director Brise Tencer. “This is a meaningful investment in key programs to support organic and transitioning farmers. We have advocated for these goals for many years and it is exciting to see them come to fruition.”
USDA notes that conversion to organic production has largely stalled since 2008, with the number of operations transitioning to organic declining by more than 70 percent. The goal is to help reverse that trend with bolstered investment in the sector. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and Natural Resources Defense Council have also expressed appreciation for the expanded support for organic producers.