PLAINSTRANSITION TO ORGANIC PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM
What is the Plains Transition to Organic Partnership Program?
The Plains Transition to Organic Partnership Program (Plains TOPP) is a coalition of organizations providing technical assistance and wrap-around support for transitioning and existing organic farmers.
Plains TOPP serves operators in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Oklahoma.
How will Plains TOPP assist regional operators?
Working with regional partners, Plains TOPP will connect operators transitioning to organic with local, experienced organic operators who will serve as mentors. Additionally, Plains TOPP will:
- Train and educate mentors to ensure successful partnership with transitioning operators
- Provide technical assistance on agronomy, organic certification, extension, conservation planning, organic regulations, certification cost share programs, business development, and marketing
- Develop and expand technical assistance and training programs
- Support local workforce development
- Organize community building and networking events to connect transitioning, newly certified, and experienced organic farmers.
TOPP MENTORSHIP PROGRAM
The goal of TOPP is to make the transition from conventional farming to organic farming easier and more accessible. To that end, a robust mentorship program has been developed. The mentorship program will:
- Connect transitioning operators with an experienced organic operator who will provide guidance throughout the transition process.
- Mentors will receive training, guidance, and support to ensure a successful relationship.
- Transitioning operators will set goals with mentors, and mentors will actively assist transitioning operators in working toward their goals.
Apply for TOPP Mentorship today!
Are you a conventional producer transitioning your operation to organic? Apply now to be matched with a mentor who will help guide you through the transition and certification process.
- Partner with an experienced organic operator to navigate the transition and certification process
- Get expert advice on best practices
- Receive support in writing the organic system plan
- Access additional learning opportunities such as field days, workshops, webinars, and conferences
Apply to be a TOPP Mentor today!
The Plains TOPP mentorship program is seeking experienced certified organic operators to serve as mentors to producers transitioning their operations to organic production.
- Mentors must have at least 3 years experience with organic production and certification
- Ability to connect with mentee 45 hours/year
- Thorough understanding of organic rules and certification requirements
- Understanding of challenges and benefits presented by organic certification
- $3,000 stipend for each mentorship year you participate (additional stipend for mentors with more than one mentee)
- Multi-lingual mentors may be eligible for additional compensation
- Mentors with multiple mentees may be eligible for additional compensation
Are you interested in learning more about organic agriculture?
Transitioning your conventional operation to organic can be overwhelming, but we truly believe that that more you know the more successful your transition to organic will be. Below you will find resources that address questions transitioning operators frequently have.
The best part? Additional resources are added every other week, so feel free to check back regularly for more learning opportunities.
Transitioning a conventional operation to organic can at times feel like a daunting task filled with insurmountable obstacles. While it’s easy to become discouraged, many of the challenges associated with organic certification can be overcome with planning, ingenuity, and perseverance.
The USDA will implement Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) on March 19, 2024. The new regulations will impact all segments of the organic industry. This post addresses common SOE questions.
All operators seeking initial organic certification must complete a similar six step process regardless of which certification agency they partner with. This process ensures that organic operators remain in compliance with organic regulations and helps maintain the integrity of the organic supply chain.
The Plains TOPP program is supported through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP). TOPP is a program of the USDA Organic Transition Initiative and is administered by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP).
Plains TOPP Partners
Who we work with:
Plains TOPP has a large network of collaborative partners continuously working to find ways to best support producers transitioning to organic, build community, and develop the organic workforce. Our partners represent state departments of agriculture, research universities, organic certifies and non-profit organizations throughout the Plains states.
Center for Rural Affairs
Contact: Wyatt Fraas
Colorado Department of Agriculture
Contact: Callie Cooper
Grain Place Foundation
Contact: Jay Vetter
Kansas Civic Network
Contact: Andres Mata
Kansas Farmers Union
Contact: Nick Levendofsky
Midwest Organic Producers
Contract: Demetria Hill
Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society
Contact: Audrey Woita
Organic Farmers Association
Contact: Kate Mendenhall
Contact: Ryan Slabaugh
University of Nebraska – Lincoln
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service — NOP