USDA, RMA Offer New Incentives for Organic Growers
August 31, 2022
USDA just announced the Organic Transition Initiative that invests $300 million to support organic producers and farmers transitioning to organic production.
According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the number of non-certified organic farms actively transitioning to organic production dropped by nearly 71 percent since 2008. It’s hoped that this initiative helps reverse that trend, opening opportunities for beginning farmers and, with increased production, expanding consumer access to organic foods.
On a recent visit to Organic Valley’s corporate headquarters in La Farge, Wisconsin, I announced RMA’s role in this USDA initiative. We are providing additional crop insurance premium assistance to organic growers and growers currently transitioning to organic for the 2023 reinsurance year. The Transitional and Organic Grower Assistance (TOGA) Program reduces a producer’s overall crop insurance premium bills and helps them continue to use organic agricultural systems.
Premium benefits for TOGA include:
- 10 percentage points of premium subsidy for all crops in transition,
- $5 per acre premium benefit for certified organic grain and feed crops, and
- 10 percentage points of premium subsidy for all Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) policies covering any number of crops in transition to organic or crops with the certified organic practice. Producers who have additional individual crop insurance policies will also receive the applicable premium assistance on those policies.
Producers can receive both RMA’s TOGA and premium assistance from other premium subsidy programs. There is no enrollment paperwork to apply for TOGA. Producers will automatically receive the premium assistance on the billing statements for the 2023 reinsurance year, which covers applicable policies with sales closing dates from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023. For most eligible crops, the 2023 reinsurance year is also the 2023 crop year.
After our visit at Organic Valley, we traveled to an organic farm in Ferryville, Wisconsin, operated by Lee and Cheryl Johnson with family. Their operation is fully organic dairy and crops, including soybeans, corn, alfalfa, winter wheat, and rye.
Visits with our customers are so important. We want to make sure that the programs, policies, and benefits UDSA offers evolve with the needs of producers. Organic farming is one of the fastest growing areas of agriculture in the country and the TOGA program is a great example of how we are supporting organic producers with beneficial and effective risk management options.
I’m grateful to our teammates in Product Management, our field offices around the country, and the support of our stakeholders, who all helped make this program a reality. Investments that we make today will pay dividends for future generations of organic growers and American agriculture.
Marcia Bunger is the Administrator of USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA). Prior to her appointment, she served as a County Executive Director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency. A native South Dakotan, Bunger is also the owner and operator of a 2000-acre farm, a cum laude graduate of Augustana College, and the first member of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and first woman to serve as RMA Administrator.