Several Recent Policy Developments for Producers Considering a Switch to Organics

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported yesterday that, “Farmers considering a switch or transition to organic crops have a lot to read right now if they want to keep pace with changes happening in the industry.

Several changes in the organic industry have happened just over the past week. USDA on Wednesday finalized a rule on organic livestock and poultry management practices. On Tuesday, USDA also opened up a comment period on a possible organic checkoff program. Last week, the department approved a new ‘transitional certification’ program. A cost-share program to help farmers transition is also moving agencies at USDA to make it more accessible to farmers.”

The article noted that, “Hopefully, the program changes are helpful and the premiums for organic corn or soybeans are still going be there in three years for farmers such as Wendel Lutz, who farms near Dewey, Illinois, and is just starting to make the transition on 80 acres. A landlord had asked some tenants if they would be interested in converting to organic production. Lutz had known others who grew organic crops and wanted to give it a shot.

“‘I really like the people and what they are trying to accomplish, and now I get a chance to try it out myself,’ Lutz told DTN. ‘It will be quite an experience, but I’m looking forward to it, and it’s only 80 acres. If it goes over good, and there are good markets like they claim there is, we’ll see about expanding more ground in years to come.'”

Mr. Clayton added that, “In other efforts to promote organics, the Farm Service Agency also just took over the organic cost-share certification program from Agricultural Marketing Service. Starting in March, farmers will be able to go to FSA offices to apply for USDA funds to help offset the costs of both the transitional and organic certification.”

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