During Organic Week (14-16 May), Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced a series of initiatives to create and expand organic markets in the United States. These new programs, partnerships, grant awards, and an additional $10 million in funding will help producers transition to organic and create new and better opportunities for domestic organic products.

“Offsetting the costs for organic transition helps more farmers realize higher margins sooner while giving consumers more access to high-demand organic products,” Secretary Vilsack said. “The partnerships and technical support we offer will ease the transition for producers, and the investments in grant projects we are announcing today will reduce the organic industry’s reliance on imports, lower cost barriers for businesses transitioning to organic, and address crucial infrastructure needs. Together, these resources ensure small and mid-sized producers can gain access to new, profitable markets and further our commitment to maximize American farmers’ share of the food dollar.”

Market Development

As part of the support package, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA AMS) will invest an additional $10 million in the Organic Market Development Grant (OMDC) program. To date, the OMDC has awarded $75.2 million in 93 grants, increasing organic market opportunities and benefiting more than 49,000 producers and over 118 million consumers.

Hands-on Training

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing $5 million to Oregon Tilth and Organic Farming Research Foundation to strengthen organic expertise for conservation program assistance and support producers transitioning to organic farming. Oregon Tilth will establish six organic specialists to provide hands-on training and support for producers, while the Foundation will distribute the latest organic research and training to NRCS staff. This effort is part of NRCS’s Organic Transition Initiative (OTI), which encourages producers to apply for assistance through its conservation programs.

Financial Support

Through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP), USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will cover up to 75% of organic certification costs, up to a maximum of $750 per certification category. This investment will support producers with some of the costs incurred in obtaining or maintaining organic certification under USDA’s National Organic Program.