Organic industry leaders welcomed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Organic Transition, a new $300 million investment to support organic and transitioning farmers, and to address targeted organic market challenges.
“We are pleased to see the details of this investment in organic and transitioning organic farmers from the USDA and are excited for the program to be implemented,” said Kate Mendenhall, executive director of the Organic Farmers Association. “There are some important fixes and expanded programs to crop insurance in this program, expanded support for organic producers through NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service), support for technical assistance and mentoring for farmers interested in transitioning to organic, and support for building better infrastructure.”
“This is the largest single investment in organic by USDA and is a big step in the right direction,” said Tom Chapman, CEO and executive director of the Organic Trade Association. “OTA has long advocated for better resources to help farmers overcome barriers to transitioning to organic, and we look forward now to helping to ensure that implementation of these programs meets the needs of organic and transitioning farmers and supports the goals of the overall sector.”
The USDA Organic Transition Initiative will bring together multiple agencies to better serve organic and transitioning farmers including USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), NRCS, and the Risk Management Agency (RMA). The plan includes:
- $100 million for farmer education support to ensure that farmers transitioning to organic have the support they need to successfully navigate the 3-year transition
- $100 million in direct farmer assistance through NRCS and RMA. This includes $75 million to develop a new organic management conservation practice standard and offer financial and technical assistance to producers who implement the practice, and $25 million to create a new Transitional and Organic Grower Assistance (TOGA) Program to provide crop insurance premium subsidies for current and transitioning organic farmers
- $100 million to improve organic supply chains in “pinpointed markets.” This will focus on key organic markets where the need for domestic supply is high, or where additional processing and distribution capacity is needed for more robust organic supply chains