The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has been selected as a national partner for the U.S. Agriculture Department’s (USDA) Transition to Organic Partnership Program, a key component of USDA’s broad multi-agency drive to expand organic agriculture by providing more direct support and technical assistance to producers across the United States. Rodale Institute, long a recognized leader in research and technical expertise on organic agriculture, will be the core partner to OTA.
As the Lead Cooperator for this project, the trade association will manage and oversee activities throughout the country that support market development for organic products, facilitate the matching of organic producers and suppliers and educate handlers in effective ways of dealing with organic products.
The Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP) is a critical part of USDA’s $300 million Organic Transition Initiative (OTI) announced last year to help foster organic agriculture and make much-needed technical assistance available to transitioning and existing organic farmers. OTI is the largest single investment in organic agriculture ever made by the USDA. In announcing the program, USDA said its aim is to “build new and better markets and streams of income for farmers and producers” and reverse a trend of slow growth in farmers transitioning to organic, open opportunities for new and beginning organic farmers, and expand consumer access to organic foods.
Through TOPP, USDA and its partnering organizations will provide locally-based farmer training and education in six regions across the United States. The national-level TOPP agreements will supplement and collaborate with this regional work, providing nationally-focused coordination and services.
“OTA is honored to be named national partner for USDA in this important program,” said Tom Chapman, CEO of the trade association. “Supporting market development and access for transitioning and organic producers and handlers is vital for the long-term success of USDA’s Organic Transition Initiative. By leveraging our experience and in-depth knowledge of organic, industry network, and collaborative approach, we know we can contribute to the success of the USDA TOPP initiative, and having Rodale as our core partner ensures even greater outcomes for the program.”
“Consumer demand for organic products has been growing rapidly in the United States, but domestic production and handling capacity have not kept pace.” said Jeff Tkach, CEO of Rodale Institute. “Through this national partnership with the USDA and the Organic Trade Association, Rodale Institute, the global leader in organic agricultural research, education, and direct farmer support programs, will teach producers how to successfully adopt certified organic handling and processing practices. The Institute’s innovative organic consulting division will also provide on-the-ground training and market development assistance to producers across the nation. If one thing is clear, it’s that this critical and in-demand partnership will lead to better outcomes for both producers and consumers of organic agriculture in the United States.”
Main image: Rodale Institute