Published: June 19, 2024

Category: Organic News

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with Oregon Tilth and Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) to strengthen organic conservation programs and support for producers wanting to transition to organic farming.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is investing $5 million in these five-year partnerships, which are part of USDA’s Organic Transition Initiative (OTI). Organic and transitioning producers can also apply for assistance from NRCS’s conservation programs that have had a funding boost.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced more organic programs in May: the Organic Market Development Grant Program and Organic Certification Cost Share Program.

The OTI partnerships will fund new positions for organic specialists, to be filled by staff from Oregon Tilth, Marbleseed, California Certified Organic Farmers Foundation, and Organic Agronomy Training Service.

In 2023, NRCS introduced a new organic management standard allowing producers flexibility to get assistance and education. It allocated $12 million in 22 states, signing 112 contracts with transitioning producers. It provides technical and financial assistance to help conservation plans supporting organic transition and management, cover cropping and rotation, field borders, high tunnels, pest management, and more.

Underserved producers including socially disadvantaged, beginning, veteran, and limited resource farmers and ranchers are eligible for higher pay rates.

Producers starting or in the process of transitioning to organic may apply at their local USDA Service Center.

Source: USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service

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Organic & Non-GMO Insights June 2024