(October 24, 2022) Santa Cruz, CA – As part of USDA’s $300 million Organic Transition Initiative, the CCOF Foundation will lead a group of regional partners in seven states across the U.S. West and Southwest for the Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP). CCOF’s group is one of six regional networks across the country that will focus on building programs specifically designed for farmers transitioning to organic practices and will include farmer-to-farmer mentorship, technical assistance, workforce development, and community building initiatives. The CCOF Foundation’s coordination of the West and Southwest networks will be a 5-year cooperative agreement overseen by the National Organic Program.
“CCOF has been a leader in organic for nearly 50 years, and we’re proud to serve as a regional hub for this groundbreaking USDA initiative. Farmers transitioning to organic will benefit from a unique suite of support as they learn new practices and reimagine their business models. We’ll combine our wealth of experience supporting organic transition in our CCOF Foundation programs with the expertise offered by the dozens of organizations participating in the regional network,” said CCOF Chief Programs Officer Jessy Beckett Parr. “Organic is, at its core, a community of likeminded farmers, and these regional networks will amplify the work of many partners as they support those transitioning to organic.”
The TOPP partnership network covers six regions: the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Plains, Northwest, and West/Southwest. Organizations in these regions are actively forming partnerships to serve transitioning and existing organic farmers. In the West and Southwest, CCOF will coordinate the work carried out by dozens of community-based public, private, and nonprofit partners in seven states: California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Hawaii.
“The organic community is known for strong local collaboration and providing farmer-to-farmer support,” USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt said. “TOPP will build on this spirit, while bringing organic to new communities of farmers and consumers.”
The challenges for organic transition vary widely in each state, so the initial phase of the program has been connecting with local organizations and farmers in each area and listening to each of their unique needs. “We will focus state-by-state to determine the needs and interests of the local agricultural community, then encourage organic transition where markets can support this new influx of growers,” explained Parr.
The USDA’s Organic Transition Initiative (OTI) was launched in August 2022 as part of USDA’s food system transformation effort to support local and regional food systems, expand access to markets to more producers and increase the affordable food supply for more Americans, while promoting climate-smart agriculture and ensuring equity for all producers.
Visit the USDA website for information about TOPP; a map with the organizations establishing the partnership network; and a form that interested farmer mentors, mentees, and other farm service organizations can use to express their interest in this initiative.
CCOF advances organic agriculture for a healthy world. We advocate on behalf of our members for organic policies, support the growth of organic through education and grants, and provide organic certification that is personal and accessible.
CCOF is a nonprofit organization governed by the people who grow and make our food. Founded in California more than 40 years ago, today our roots span the breadth of North America and our presence is internationally recognized. We are supported by an organic family of farmers, ranchers, processors, retailers, consumers, and policymakers. Together, we work to realize a future where organic is the norm.
The CCOF Foundation advances organic by supporting people and communities who care for the land by offering intentional education, financial support, and growth opportunities for organic professionals.
For more information about CCOF, visit www.ccof.org.