USDA Training Resources
USDA aims to make organic certification accessible, attainable, and affordable for all.
The Agricultural Marketing Service's National Organic Program has tools to help transitioning producers get certified, and to help organic producers comply with USDA organic requirements. Take a look at:
- The Sound and Sensible Certification offers project produced videos, fact sheets, and training curricula from 13 external partners on organic production, handling, transition, and certification.
- The Organic Educational Toolkit offers self-paced training modules, posters, brochures, and in-depth guides to USDA programs for organic farmers, ranchers, and food processors.
- The National Organic Program Handbook includes guides for organic crop & livestock production, guides for organic processing, organic system plan templates, as well as specific explanations of topics such as wild cropping and compost.
USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service supports producers transitioning from conventional to organic production, and those who are already certified organic. Take a look at:
- The Organic Farming Handbook describes organic systems and identifies key resources to guide conservation planning and implementation on organic farms.
- Conservation Webinars cover the latest research and suggested practices for organic on-farm conservation, with nearly 40 recorded sessions on a variety of topics.
NRCS can also help transitioning producers with a Conservation Activity Plan that evaluates resource concerns such as erosion, soil quality/organic matter, water quality, plant health, soil fertility, pest management, biodiversity status and others.
If you're new to farming, USDA's website for new farmers provides a wealth of resources and personalized search tools.
The USDA National Agricultural Library's Alternative Farming Systems Information Center also includes organic production resources and the "Organic Roots" digital collection, an archive of historic USDA publications related to organic agriculture. Librarians are available to search and compile literature and information resources on all aspects of organic farming.
The USDA and partners have developed a number of resources and services to help transitioning and certified operations address the practical challenges of organic production.
Other Training on Organic Production and Handling
USDA supports the eOrganic Community of Practice, which provides research-based articles, webinars, videos, and an "Ask the Expert" section on its website. eOrganic resources cover dairy production, fruits & vegetables, and poultry production, as well as specific topics such as cover cropping or insect management.
USDA also supports the National Center for Appropriate Technology, a non-profit organization that offers a broad range of training and publications on organic farming, ranching, and food processing. ATTRA also offers toll-free phone support at 1-800-346-9140.
And USDA supports the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE). SARE projects have provided numerous books, case studies, guides, and videos on organic production.
Transition to Organic Production
These two USDA AMS fact sheets explain the basics for transitioning producers and handlers:
- Transition to Organic (PDF, 1.8 MB)
- Introduction to Organic Practices (PDF, 730 KB)
USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Risk Management Agency, and the Sustainable Research and Education Program, have also funded numerous tools to help producers understand how to transition from conventional to organic production. Below are a few highlights:
- Organic Transition: A Business Planner for Farmers, Ranchers, and Food Entrepreneurs (PDF, 3.6 MB) (Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture)
- Making the Transition to Organic: Ten Farm Profiles (PDF, 1.9 MB) (University of Minnesota)
- Organic Transition Course (Rodale Institute)
- Farm Transitions: Valuing Sustainable Practices - Organic Certification (Land Stewardship Project)