USDA Approves New Transitional Certificate to Foster Organics
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 01/18/2017
The Organic Trade Association announced a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help guide farmers transitioning into certified organic agricultural production. Using standards developed by OTA, the National Certified Transitional
Program will provide oversight to approved Accredited Organic Certifying Agents offering transitional certification to producers. This will help ease the transition process to organic, allow farmers to sell their products as certified transitional at a premium price,
and help encourage more organic production.
OTA designed the certified transitional program to create a consistent mechanism for certifying agencies to document operations' adherence to organic regulations on land in transition to organic status. The new program provides certification and oversight to
producers who are in transition to organic. It does not provide standards or criteria for labeling products certified under the program.
"The transitional certification program developed by OTA reflects perspectives from across the supply chain, and will provide an on-ramp to producers while safeguarding organic as the gold standard of food label claims," said Nate Lewis, Farm Policy Director
Farmers must undergo a rigorous and sometimes challenging transition period of 36 months before they can gain organic certification and market their products as certified organic. This newly created program at USDA will harmonize existing transitional
certification programs currently operated by Accredited Certifying Agents and provide a mechanism for additional certifiers to offer this service to new clients.
The USDA says demand for organic products has continued to grow by double digits every year, far exceeding the domestic supply of organic ingredients.