What can you tell me about transitioning to certified organic production?
Answer: The ATTRA website contains several online multi-lesson tutorials that allow you to work through lessons and associated worksheets at your own pace, including two that focus on getting started in commercial farming. These beginning-farmer resources discuss the importance of setting goals, creating a business plan, and understanding your markets. The first is titled Beginning Farmer Business Planning, Marketing, and Sheep, Goat & Poultry Resources and, although it is geared towards livestock, the first four lessons focus on business and financial planning. The second tutorial is titled Getting Started in Farming: An Introduction to Farm Business Planning. This tutorial contains eight lessons and will guide you through the process of imagining and planning a successful farming enterprise. This guide was created through a project in North Carolina but the information presented is not specific to any single state. Another useful resource is the SARE publication titled Organic Transition: A Business Planner for Farmers, Ranchers and Food Entrepreneurs (2015). SARE is a USDA-funded program and was the first Federal program to fund research in organic agriculture. Since 1988, SARE has invested in hundreds of organic research and education projects. The Organic Transition publication is considered a planning guide to assist in exploring transitioning to organics through the business planning process and in developing an Organic System Plan (OSP). The OSP is required for all organic producers and farms transitioning to organic certification. For more information, visit www.sare.org. It is a good idea to talk to a few organic certifiers to see which one is a good fit for you and your operation. As you are staring to explore the possibility of transitioning to organics, now would be a good time to contact certifiers as they may have different recommendations and procedures for transitioning.