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.

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.

Organic/Sustainable Transition Resources

While organic or sustainable agriculture is not for everyone, many people are deciding to transition from conventional farming. Before deciding if this switch is for you, there are many factors that must be taken into consideration. Organic farming requires practices like rotating crops for soil health, distinguishing between pests and beneficial insects and spending a great deal of time in your fields in order to be fully acquainted with your crops, because you will have to learn to handle problems by working with nature to fix them. To look more into these factors and learn other things to consider, check out Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education’s page detailing the transition. The Organic and Non-GMO Report also released an informative question and answer on the topic. There’s more to organic production than growing, though, so the Small Business Bureau created an all-encompassing  overview on producing and selling organic produce.

If organic agriculture is something you are interested in, there can be many benefits for you and your farm. According to Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, the three goals of sustainable agriculture are what they call the Three Pillars of Sustainability: profit over the long term, stewardship of our nation’s land, air and water and quality of life for farmers, ranchers, and their communities. The University of Nebraska provides a guide for transitioning to organic farming that not only has specifics related to farming in Nebraska, but also comprehensibly explains the process of transitioning and what it entails. Other great resources for transitioning are the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s helpful, step-by-step handbook and Local Food Hub’s breakdown of organic certification, suppliers and production to walk you through the process.

If you do decide to transition, check out the Rodale Institute’s online course to learn  about how to tackle each step of the transition.

Once a farmer transitions to organic agriculture, they will need to find a new market for their organic products and make sure they have all the certification required. For information on these topics, go to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service’s page on organic farming or Texas A&M Agrilife Extension’s page on marketing organic produce. If you are interested as selling at local farmers markets, check out Local Harvest’s website to find one near you.