The Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP) is investing up to $100 million over five years in cooperative agreements with non-profit organizations who will partner with others to provide technical assistance and wrap-around support for transitioning and existing organic farmers. Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is building partnership networks in six regions across the United States with trusted organizations serving direct farmer training, education, and outreach activities.
As you can see, Texas is in the West/Southwest region. The USDA partner organization for our region is CCOF out of California. I recently had a long conversation with the two organizers of TOPP from CCOF, Jessy Parr and Adrian Fischer to discuss organic farmers in Texas and interest in transitioning to organic. As you can see from the map Texas A&M AgriLife Extension will be a partner in this effort with CCOF.
The USDA partner organizations will do the following, but they will do this through their partners in each region.
- Connect transitioning farmers with mentors for at least one year after certification.
- Build paid mentoring networks to share practical insights and advice.
- Provide community building opportunities to include:
- Train-the-mentor support
- Technical assistance
- Workshops and field days covering topics including organic production practices, certification, conservation planning, business development (including navigating the supply chain), regulations, and marketing
- Help producers overcome technical, cultural, and financial shifts during and following certification.
- Engage educational and training institutions (including crop advisors and extension agents) on organic workforce training and education and future human capital planning.