(KMAland) — The USDA announced the details of a framework to transform the American food system to benefit consumers, producers, and rural communities. The goal is to provide more options, increase access to food, and create more and better markets for small and mid-size producers. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said one of the agency’s investments includes helping conventional producers who want to transition to organic farming.
“On the production side, you know, as USDA helps to create climate-smart agricultural commodities with reduced greenhouse gas impacts and carbon impacts, there’s also a need to invest in and to recognize the importance of organic agricultural production. Given its contribution to a sustainable food system. The process for becoming an organic producer is complicated and financially difficult, especially during the early days of transition when expenses can be high, and income limited.”
The agency will make up to $300 million available in a new Organic Transition Initiative. Vilsack says organic farming is an important part of transforming the U.S. food system.
“I believe a transformed food system needs to make that process less complicated, and the financial costs of transition easier to bear. So today, I’m announcing a $300 million effort to do just that. Over the next two to three years, these resources will be used to create a mentoring program where organic beginners can be paired with experienced organic farmers who can provide guidance on how best to navigate and simplify the transition process. Those resources will be used to provide the initial cost of conservation compliance to meet the organic standards and to help expand and develop markets across the United States.”
He says increasing the assistance to help producers transitioning to organic farming will help the climate and producers’ bottom lines.
“This Organic Transition Initiative will build upon the support already provided by USDA under the Organic Certification and Transition Cost Share Program that helps with the costs of organic certification under our National Organic Program. We believe that additional organic agricultural production will hasten the day when our food-transformed system gets to its net zero emissions future while also expanding now high-value opportunities for farmers, ranchers, and growers.”