New resources for farmers transitioning to organic production

Transition to Organic Network (TON) listserv
TON is an online community of farmers, processors, handlers, buyers, agricultural service providers, and other food system stakeholders that share a common interest in transitional and organic agriculture. TON members connect with each other via the listserv to:

  • Exchange questions and resources related to transitional and organic agriculture and certification,

  • Stay informed about educational opportunities and programs for transitioning and organic producers and buyers, and

  • Network and develop relationships with other actors in the transitional and organic community.

Click Here to Subscribe to the Transition to Organic Network Listerv.


Making the Transition to Organic: Ten Farm Profiles
 

This publication features livestock, field crop, and vegetable producers who, during 2012-2015, were in the process of transitioning or who had been recently certified organic. Each profile addresses organic transition strategies (full transition, gradual transition, immediate transition, and split transition), challenges encountered, and outcomes deemed “most satisfying.” Click here to download a PDF version of this report.

 

Organic Transition: A Business Planner for Farmers, Ranchers and Food Entrepreneurs 
This publication is a decision-making tool designed to assist with the development of actionable production, marketing, human resource and finance strategies when considering the switch to organic. The Organic Transition Planner includes worksheets as well as three business plans developed by transitioning dairy, row crop, and vegetable farmers. Click here to download a PDF version of this report.

Greener Fields Together

Greener Fields Together is a local and sustainable produce program which helps farmers make capital investments and infrastructure improvements through Cultivating Change, a local farm grant program. Greener Fields Together donated $60,000 to farmers throughout the country in 2016 so that farmers can focus on farming and, for a fleeting moment, not be burdened by the weight of the food system.

Congratulations to farmers that received grants! Learn more about some of the winning projects here:

http://www.greenerfieldstogether.org/news/sustainable-agriculture-local-farm-grants

Now accepting applications: Bricmont Hardship Assistance Fund

The California-based CCOF Foundation is now accepting applications from certified organic producers for its Bricmont Hardship Assistance Fund.

The fund provides direct financial assistance to certified organic producers and processors/handlers who have suffered losses in 2015 due to extreme hardship.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Certified organic operation currently in good standing (valid organic certificate required for consideration)
  • Have not received CCOF disaster or hardship funding in the last three years
  • Have experienced severe economic loss in the 2015 calendar year
  • Can submit documentation or supporting evidence of economic loss resulting from the hardship (required for consideration)
  • Can submit a copy of receipt for organic certification fees paid in 2015 (by any accredited certifier)
  • Have not received federal assistance for the same loss

Click here to download the application.

Applications are due to CCOF Foundation by October 23, 2015.

Upcoming webinar: Opportunities for Conservation in Organic Livestock Systems

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons, Pamzpix

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons, Pamzpix

Next Tuesday, August 4th at 3:00 p.m. Eastern the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is hosting Opportunities for Conservation in Organic Livestock Systems, a free webinar to highlight organic livestock systems and their conservation benefits.

USDA staff will begin the webinar by describing organic management practices and regulations relevant to livestock, focusing on pasture and outdoor access, feed management, and pasture management. Next they’ll highlight conservation practices that can work well with organic livestock systems, such as rotational grazing, fencing, and pasture management.

During the webinar, New Hampshire farmer Steve Normanton will talk about his grass-fed beef farm and how he put NRCS conservation practices into action.

Pre-registration for the webinar is not required. Click here for more information and instructions on how to join.

OFRF 2015 National Survey of Organic Farmers

Photo © Patty O'Brien / www.summercrowphotos.com

Photo © Patty O’Brien / www.summercrowphotos.com

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is now conducting a national survey of organic farmers. OFRF will contact more than 13,000 certified organic farmers via email or postcard asking for their participation. (Or you can access the survey here.)

The survey is confidential and will ask organic farmers to list data such as their farm size, production methods, and — most importantly — information about organic farming opportunities and challenges. Results from the survey will identify critical issues for organic farmers, and will inform OFRF’s National Organic Research Agenda, which recommends research priorities for the USDA and other policymakers.

For more information, contact OFRF at (831) 426-6606 or visit their website.

Two Upcoming Organic Labeling Webinars

An organic spring bounty! Photo: © Patty O'Brien / www.summercrowphotos.com
An organic spring bounty! Photo: © Patty O’Brien / www.summercrowphotos.com

Navigating label claims and getting an organic certification can be both confusing and costly for producers. That’s why CCOF and Oregon Tilth have stepped in offering webinars that will cover the basics. Read below to find out about upcoming July webinars.

Details: July 07, 2015 12:00 PM PDT / 3:00 PM ET; Free; Register here.

  • CCOF’s webinar will cover how to develop labels that comply with the USDA’s National Organic Program and how to avoid costly mistakes and delays in product roll-out. Organic Education Solutions LLC — an educational company that helps processors, distributors, retailers and others with organic certification — will lead the webinar with discussion of product composition and percentage calculations, the correct use of CCOF and USDA “Organic” seals, ingredient listing, and the CCOF label approval process.

Details: July 16, 2015, 1:00pm – 3:00pm; $20; Register here.

NRCS Webinar: Transitioning to Organic

If you’re curious about making the transition to organic production, tune into the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s upcoming webinar. This webinar will cover different types of NRCS support that producers can utilize for the transition. Specifically, how producers can use a Conservation Activity Plan (CAP) 138 to help identify conservation practices that are a good match for their operation.

The webinar is scheduled for Feb 18th at 3:00pm EST. For more information and to join the webinar, visit the USDA’s Science & Technology Training Library.

Enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program

Enrollment is now open for the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Stewardship Program. Farmers and ranchers have until February 27th to submit applications for this year’s funding. The CSP is win for both farmers and the environment, as it gives farmers financial incentive to engage in conservation activities like cover crops, rotational grazing, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and the transition to organic farming. According the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, since 2009, when the program began, nearly 70 million acres of farm and ranch land have been enrolled. Learn more about the CSP at NSAC’s blog, and visit your local NRCS office to get the enrollment process started.

USDA’s Organic Farm Survey

The USDA is inventorying organic producers, certified and not, across the U.S. This information will help the agency track organic agriculture’s economic impact as well as trends and opportunities for organic products. The 2012 Census of Agriculture showed substantial growth in the organic market—an increase of 83 percent since 2007.

Approximately 17,000 organic producers received the census in early January. Organic farmers are required by law to respond. Survey responses are due by mail by on February 13th or online by April 3rd.

Data collected from the survey will help boost organic producers’ needs. Results will help the government assess crop insurance programs for organic producers, determine funding and extension support for organics, and calculate disaster payments for producers.

Read more about the USDA’s organic producer survey and learn about the history and consequences of the survey from the National Sustainable Agriculture’s blog post.

PASA’s 24th Annual Farming for the Future Conference

for PASA

It’s conference season! PASA is taking part with their 24th Annual Farming for the Future Conference from February 4 – 7 in State College, PA.

The conference will feature over 100 workshops over the weekend to educate attendees with courses ranging from Vegetable Farm Irrigation to The Deeper Wisdom of the Biodynamic Preparations. The conference also presents the Future Farmers Program for children from kindergarten to eighth grade.

For more information and to register visit: http://conference.pasafarming.org/