Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced details of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) $300 million investment, including with American Rescue Plan funds, in a new Organic Transition Initiative to provide comprehensive support for farmers transitioning to organic production. This initiative will deliver wrap-around technical assistance, including farmer-to-farmer mentoring; provide direct support through conservation financial assistance and additional crop insurance assistance, and support market development projects in targeted markets.
This initiative is part of USDA’s food system transformation effort to support local and regional food systems, expand access to markets to more producers and increase affordable food supply for more Americans, while promoting climate-smart agriculture and ensuring equity for all producers.
“Farmers face challenging technical, cultural, and market shifts while transitioning to organic production, and even during the first years after successful organic certification,” said Vilsack. “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.”
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), Risk Management Agency (RMA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are the primary agencies supporting the Initiative, which will focus on three areas.
Transition to Organic Partnership Program: AMS will build partnership networks in six regions across the United States with trusted organizations serving direct farmer training, education, and outreach activities. USDA will provide up to $100 million for this program.
Direct Farmer Assistance: NRCS will develop a new Organic Management conservation practice standard and offer financial and technical assistance to producers who implement the practice. USDA will provide $75 million for this effort.
USDA will provide $25 million to RMA for the new Transitional and Organic Grower Assistance Program (TOGA) which will support transitioning and certain certified organic producers’ participation in crop insurance, including coverage of a portion of their insurance premium.
Organic Pinpointed Market Development Support: This AMS initiative 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. USDA will invest up to $100 million to help improve organic supply chains in pinpointed markets.
Read the full USDA Press Release.