Southeast Regional Center for Organic Transition

USDA’s Organic Transition Initiative (OTI) Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

FOG to Lead Southeast Regional Center for Organic Transition for USDA’s Transition to Organic Partnership Program  

(Gainesville, Fla. – November 18, 2022) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced it is establishing a 5-year cooperative agreement in six regions across the United States for the $300 million Organic Transition Initiative, Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP). The TOPP network regions include: the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Plains, Northwest, and West/Southwest. Florida Organic Growers (FOG) was chosen to lead the Southeast region and will work together with regional partners to establish and administer programs that help transitioning and recently transitioned producers.  

The USDA’s investment in organic transition is a milestone. Through TOPP funding, organizations participating in the partnership networks will be able to build programs specifically designed for farmers transitioning to organic practices and will include farmer-to-farmer mentorship, technical assistance, workforce development, and community building initiatives overseen by the National Organic Program (NOP). 

“For over 30 years, FOG has been dedicated to educating producers, consumers, media, institutions and governments about the benefits of organic, regenerative and sustainable agriculture. We look forward to strengthening and building relationships with partners to increase opportunities through this new organic initiative,” said Logan Petrey, Vice President of FOG’s Board of Directors. 

FOG will lead a coalition of 35 partners in seven states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and two territories: Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to ensure everyone has a seat at the table.  

“We at FOG are grateful to the USDA and National Organic Program for giving us the opportunity to develop tools and programs that give farmers much needed support. There are many challenges that transitioning farmers face, so having the ability to listen to their specific needs and collaborate with partners to address them will be an incredible and worthwhile experience,” explained Dr. Juan C. Rodriguez, Education and Outreach Specialist at FOG. 

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: ams.usda.gov/services/organic-certification/topp. 

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Contact: Kyndra Love, OTI Project Manager

Florida Organic Growers

Phone: 352.377.6345  

Email: kyndra@foginfo.org 

Check back for more updates on this program!