The U.S. Department of Agriculture has published a trio of guides designed to help producers transition into organic farming and gain organic certification.
Organic Transition: A Business Planner for Farmers, Ranchers and Food Entrepreneurs, from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, walks producers through the process and helps develop a business plan to support farmers through the transition.
While not a comprehensive guide to meeting certification requirements, the Organic Transition Planner will help you explore organic transition strategies and decide whether going organic makes sense for your farm or business. The Organic Transition Planner contains explanations of key concepts, real-life examples from transitioning farmers and detailed worksheets covering farm operations, marketing, human resources and finances.
To offer a detailed explanation of the certification process, the group Florida Organic Growers teamed up with USDA’s National Organic Program to create a video series titled Organic Certification Made Simple: Bite by Bite.
The video is broken into “bite-size” segments that provide information from the perspectives of certified organic direct-market farmers as well as an accredited certifier. The videos highlight the real benefits of organic certification, demystify perceived barriers, and outline how farmers can overcome real-life challenges during the certification and renewal process. While the focus is primarily on the perspectives of direct-market farmers, any business pursuing certification may find valuable insights.
The USDA has also developed the National Organic Farming Handbook to help the Natural Resources Conservation Service work with organic or transitioning producers. Jeff Eschmeyer is an organic farmer and NRCS consultant who contributed to the handbook:
Organic producers use different practices and must follow USDA organic rules. This new handbook provides this critical information to our conservation planners and other ag-professionals who design practices for farmers and ranchers.
Find more USDA information on organic farming here.