Published: July 31, 2023

Category: Organic News

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, through its organics program, will lead the Texas Transition to Organic Partnership Program, or Texas TOPP, designed to recruit, train, mentor and advise farmers who want to transition to organic production.

Texas TOPP is one of six USDA regional initiatives promoting organic farmer-to-farmer relationships to build organic communities. The five-year partnership program in Texas (USDA’s West/Southwest region) will also engage the state’s higher education institutions, USDA agencies, non-profit organizations, and farm groups.

Bob Whitney, Texas A&M Extension organic specialist, said organic resources will be available to support farmers. “Integral to [the effort’s] long-term success, will be a workforce training and development initiative that focusses on how best to train future organic industry professionals,” he said.

Other specific foci will be:

  • Connecting farmers with mentors, building networks.
  • Support for training mentors, technical assistance, and educational workshops.
  • Navigation of technical and financial shifts during organic certification.
  • Seminars on production, certification, business development, regulations, and more.

Texas ranks #6 in number of organic acres, producing primarily cotton, peanuts, corn, sorghum, rice, and/or wheat. Challenges to transitioning include finding land, regulations, weed control, transition costs, large amount of record-keeping, and understanding of the organic process. Currently there is a lack of organic farmers to meet demand.

Farmshare Austin, a non-profit TOPP partner, will help with education and training and develop an open-source record-keeping method. The USDA will invest up to $100 million over five years with TOPP partners.

Source: Agri-Life Today – Texas A&M University

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Organic & Non-GMO Insights August 2023