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USDA to get around $300 million in New Organic Transition Initiative

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2022 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced information on the U.S. Department of Agricultures (USDA) $300 million investment, including with American Rescue Plan funds, in a fresh Organic Transition Initiative that will assist build new and better markets and streams of income for farmers and producers. Organic production allows producers to carry a distinctive position available on the market and thus collect a larger share of the meals dollar.

Based on the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, the amount of non-certified organic farms actively transitioning to organic production dropped by nearly 71 percent since 2008. Through the comprehensive support supplied by this initiative USDA hopes to reverse this trend, opening opportunities for new and beginning farmers and expanding direct consumer usage of organic foods through increased production.

The initiative will deliver wrap-around technical assistance, including farmer-to-farmer mentoring; provide direct support through conservation financial assistance and extra crop insurance assistance, and support market development projects in targeted markets.

Farmers face challenging technical, cultural, and market shifts while transitioning to organic production, and also through the first years after successful organic certification, said Vilsack. Through this multi-phased, multi-agency initiative, we have been expanding USDAs support of organic farmers to greatly help them with every step of these transition because they work to become certified and secure markets for his or her products.

USDAs Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), Risk Management Agency (RMA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will be the primary agencies supporting the Initiative, that may concentrate on three areas.

Transition to Organic Partnership Program

Through this initiative, USDA aims to make sure that farmers transitioning to organic have the support they have to navigate that transition, including a complete supply chain to American consumers who demand organic choices within their supermarkets daily. AMS will build partnership networks in six regions over the USA with trusted local organizations serving direct farmer training, education, and outreach activities. The organizations will connect transitioning farmers with mentors, building paid mentoring networks to talk about practical insights and advice. Each regional team may also provide community building, including train-the-mentor support; along with technical assistance, workshops, and field days covering topics including organic production practices, certification, conservation planning, business development (including navigating the supply chain), regulations, and marketing to greatly help transitioning and recently transitioned producers overcome technical, cultural, and financial shifts during and rigtht after certification. USDA provides around $100 million because of this program.

Direct Farmer Assistance

NRCS will establish a fresh Organic Management conservation practice standard and provide financial and technical assist with producers who implement the practice. Payments will undoubtedly be modeled on those already open to producers meeting the prevailing nutrient and pest management conservation practice standards. USDA provides $75 million because of this effort. This can include a rise in organic expertise throughout its regions, creating organic experts at all of its regional technology support centers. These experts will train staff who provide direct services to USDA customers. These services include hosting hands-on organic training for state and field NRCS staff and fielding organic-related staff questions.

USDA provides $25 million to RMA for the brand new Transitional and Organic Grower Assistance Program (TOGA) that may support transitioning and certain certified organic producers participation in crop insurance, including coverage of some of these insurance premium.

Organic Pinpointed Market Development Support

Stakeholders have shared that specific organic markets have market development risks because of inadequate organic processing capacity and infrastructure, too little certainty about market access, and insufficient way to obtain certain organic ingredients. This AMS initiative will concentrate on key organic markets where in fact the dependence on domestic supply is high, or where additional processing and distribution capacity is necessary for better quality organic supply chains. Types of markets seeking support include organic grain and feed; legumes along with other edible rotational crops; and livestock and dairy. USDA will invest around $100 million to greatly help improve organic supply chains in pinpointed markets. The Department will seek stakeholder input on these pinpointed initiatives from September, leading to an announcement of specific policy initiatives later this season.

Other USDA Organic Assistance

This USDA initiative complements existing assistance for organic producers, including FSAs Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP) and Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP). OCCSP helps producers obtain or renew their organic certification, and OTECP provides additional funding to certified and transitioning producers through the pandemic.

NRCS offers conservation programs, like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), that may provide assist with help with managing weeds and pests, and establishing high tunnels, improving soil health, and implementing other practices key to organic operations. RMA also administers federal crop insurance possibilities to organic producers, including Whole Farm Revenue Protection and Micro Farm.

The National Organic Program (NOP) is really a federal regulatory program, administered by AMS, that develops and enforces consistent national standards for organically produced agricultural products sold in america.

USDA touches the lives of most Americans every day in so many positive ways. Beneath the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming Americas food system with a larger concentrate on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for several producers, ensuring usage of safe, healthy, and nutritious food in every communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and investing in equity over the Department by detatching systemic barriers and creating a workforce more representative of America. To find out more, visit usda.gov.

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