Education

Transitioning to Organic Partnership Program

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Midwest region transitioning to organic partnership program

 

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researcher in field

The Midwest Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP) is a coalition of partners providing mentorship, technical assistance, and workforce development for transitioning and existing organic producers.

Our coalition of partners serves producers in Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

OVERVIEW: 

Through TOPP, the Midwest Regional Center and its partner organizations will connect farmers transitioning to organic with local, experienced organic mentors; provide farmer training and education; provide education and technical assistance on agronomy, organic certification, extension, conservation planning, organic regulations, certification cost share, business development, and marketing; build networks and strengthen the organic community; develop and expand access to technical assistance and training; and support workforce training and development.

TOPP MENTORSHIP PROGRAM: CONNECTING ORGANIC PRODUCERS

The TOPP Mentorship Program connects experienced organic producers with producers transitioning to organic. Mentorships are available in Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin

Experienced organic producers will be matched with producers transitioning to organic. The experienced organic producer will provide support to the transitioning producer throughout the transition process. MW TOPP will provide training, guidance and support for a successful relationship between a mentor and a transitioning producer. Successful mentors may come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, including various production models and cultural backgrounds.

Mentors and transitioning producers will collaborate to set goals and build a communication system that works best for their individual needs and preferences. Neither the mentor nor the transitioning producer is expected to work on the other’s operation.

MW TOPP is currently accepting mentors and transitioning producers into our TOPP mentorship program.

Mentee: Get Guidance and Support as You Transition to Organic
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Are you transitioning to organic and interested in learning from an experienced organic producer? Apply now to be matched with a mentor who will support and guide you through the transition process. Your mentor will share their experience and knowledge of their similar production model with you, they will provide advice for best practices, and they may assist with writing your organic systems plan. Owners, managers, and operation employees are encouraged to apply as mentees, you just need to be planning to develop an organic system plan and intending to apply for organic certification.

This is a free mentorship opportunity for all crop and livestock producers planning to transition an existing operation to organic production methods, in the process of transitioning an operation, or planning to add new organic acreage to their existing certified organic operation. 

As a certifier-neutral program, you may seek certification with the certification agency of your choice.

Mentee Application

Mentor: Unlock Your Potential as a Certified Organic Producer
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Midwest TOPP is seeking experienced certified organic producers (or retired organic producers) who are passionate about organic production and who would like to share their expertise as a mentor to a producer transitioning their operation to organic production. This is a paid mentoring opportunity including paid training, mentorship time, and travel. All crop and livestock producers in the Midwest TOPP Region (Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin) are encouraged to apply! As a certifier-neutral program, you may be certified with any certification agency to participate.

Program Requirements for Mentors:

 

At least 3 years of experience with organic production and certification

Ability to meet 45 hours/year commitment

Strong understanding of the Organic Rule and of the challenges and benefits of organic production and certification

Interest in mentoring, teaching, sharing your knowledge and experiences

Mentors receive $3,000/year of participation

Additional stipend for mentors with more than one mentee

Multi-lingual applicants may be eligible for additional compensation

Mentor applications are accepted on a rolling basis

Mentor Application  Mentor Position Description

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The Midwest Transition to Organic Partnership 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). Learn More

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Rodale Roller on Rye field.