USDA is Investing $300M in Transition to Organic Farming
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is committing $300 million to the Organic Transition Initiative - a new program that offers assistance in transitioning to organic production methods while building better organic markets and streams of income.
Since 2008, the number of non-certified farmers actively transitioning to organic has dropped by 71 percent. A big part of the reason behind this decline is the numerous challenges associated with the three-year long organic certification process. Over this time, and even in the first year after being certified, organic farmers are faced with technical and market hurdles.
To assist in the process, the USDA is allocating $100 million to create six regional partnership networks that will provide direct training and education to farmers. It also will provide farmer-to-farmer mentoring, build paid mentoring neworks, conduct workshops, and assist in business development, including navigating the supply chain. This help will extend to recently transitioned growers in the form of helping to overcome technical, cultural, and financial shifts both during and immediately following transition.
An additional $75 million will be committed to direct assistance in the form of financial aid to farmers who adopt new organic management and conservation practices that meet standards currently under development and soon to be finalized.