Before crops can be certified organic, farmers must carefully manage their land without using prohibited inputs like synthetic pesticides for 36 months. During this transition period and during the first years after certification, farmers often face many technical and market challenges. The Organic Transition Initiative was announced on August 22, 2022 as a $300 million multi-agency USDA effort to support this transition and build and strengthen organic markets. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Risk Management Agency each have a major role in the Organic Transition Initiative.
How USDA helps through the Organic Transition Initiative
USDA will provide support in three main areas: mentoring and advice; direct farmer assistance and organic market security.
Through the Transition to Organic Production Program (TOPP), USDA provides regionally-based farmer training and education. Partnering organizations in six regions connect farmers with local mentors and provide education and technical assistance on agronomy, certification, extension, conservation planning, business development regulations, and marketing .
In addition to technical assistance, NRCS will offer financial assistance to farmers choosing to implement a new Organic Management conservation practice standard.
NRCS will also increase organic expertise throughout its regions, creating organic experts at each of its regional technology support centers to train NRCS field staff who provide direct services to USDA customers. This is in addition to the existing NRCS assistance for organic and transitioning producers including conservation planning, conservation practice implementation and financial assistance for all offered conservation practices.
RMA’s Transitional Organic Grower Assistance Program (TOGA) provides support that reduces what transitioning and certain certified organic producers pay for crop insurance.
We invite input from stakeholders about the pinpointed market development investments needed to expand the organic agricultural supply chain. AMS recently held a Listening Session to gather input for this program and plans to publish additional information in early 2023.
Find Your Local Service Center
USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to ﬁnd your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit offices.usda.gov.
Visit the Risk Management Agency website to ﬁnd a regional or compliance office or to ﬁnd an insurance agent near you.