USA — The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing US$300 million in the Organic Transition Initiative, which supports both organically-certified farmers, and ranchers and producers who wish to transition into organic production as part of its US$2.5 billion Food System Transformation Framework.

Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) has been working alongside policymakers and industry partners to advocate for this crucial investment that supports producers’ adoption of organic management while building a resilient and equitable food system.

Since 2008, there has been a 71% decrease in the number of farms actively transitioning to organic production. Part of the decrease may be the result of the organic certification process, a three-year period where farmers must avoid using specific prohibited inputs.

“Farmers face challenging technical, cultural, and market shifts while transitioning to organic production, and even during the first years after successful organic certification,” said Tom Vilsack, secretary of agriculture for the USDA. Many farmers also face technical and market challenges during the first year of this period, according to the USDA.

To lessen the difficulties, the USDA is allocating US$100 million in wrap-around technical assistance in transitioning. This assistance includes the creation of six regional partnership networks that will provide direct farmer training and education opportunities.

Farmers face challenging technical, cultural, and market shifts while transitioning to organic production, and even during the first years after successful organic certification

Tom Vilsack, secretary of agriculture for the USDA

Tweet

Up to US$100M will also be allocated towards organic supply chain improvements that provides more and better market options for producers seeking support in areas such as organic processing capacity and infrastructure, market access, and insufficient supply of certain organic ingredients. Areas of focus include organic grain, feed, rotational crops, livestock and dairy.

Another US$75 million will be devoted to developing a new Organic Management conservation practice standard and offering financial and technical assistance to producers who implement the practice.

As for crop insurance, USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) will receive US$25 million for the new Transitional and Organic Grower Assistance Program, which will cover a portion of the insurance premium for transitioning and certain certified organic producers.

“As we look at this program going forward, we’re really excited for the opportunity to partner with farmers across the country who are transitioning to organic and accessing more new and better markets,” said Jenny Moffitt, undersecretary of agriculture for marketing and regulatory programs.

The department will seek input on these pinpointed initiatives beginning in September and those specific policy initiatives will be announced later this year.

Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Business Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food and agro industry. SUBSCRIBE HERE