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USDA Announces Dramatic Increases in Support for Organic Agriculture Without Call for Total Transition

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on June 1 that it will provide a potential 15-fold increase in funding aimed at organic food production — up to $300 million. The subject Organic Transition Initiative provision is embedded in a new USDA Food System Transformation Framework (FSTF), whose raison d’être is captured in the press release: “to transform the food system to benefit consumers, producers and rural communities by providing more options, increasing access, and creating new, more, and better markets for small and mid-size producers.” That funding for organic transition, the invocation of climate as a significant driver of multiple features of the initiative, and a focus on equity concerns are all welcome news. Beyond Pesticides maintains that it will be critical that this FSTF result in concrete goals that set out specific metrics and timelines — particularly around the magnitude of acres shifted to organic production and the pace of the phaseout of non-organic substances and protocols.