USDA program helps farmers switch to organic farming

LOUISIANA (KNOE) — Two USDA programs have been announced to help farmers switch to organic farming. The Organic Certification Cost-Sharing Program (OCCSP) will help cover the costs of transitioning to organic processes up to $750. If they need help training for certification, the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP) can help with up to $250 per certification category.

Farmers in the region like the idea of ​​organic. Anthony Yakaboski of Yak’s Produce knows that sprays that help control pests can affect the crop.

“We eat while raising a family on produce. It’s just that we try to spray only when and if necessary,” says Yakaboski. “Then try to really look at what chemicals you’re using, because some chemicals you can’t get in the field or eat for a certain number of days or weeks or months.”

When someone went out to test their products, they discovered how it seeped into the products. “Generally, they’ll come back and show you a list of the chemicals you used,” Yakaboski said.

Another farmer, Donna Issacs of De La Terre Permaculture Farms, is working to obtain her organic certifications. They are doing a different process at his farm that will work hand in hand with organic farming.

“But what we’re doing is implementing regenerative agriculture practices,” Issacs said. “We also want to farm organically, but in a way that boosts soil health. To offer our customers a better product.

Yakaboski wants to go organic; he understands it would be easier for smaller farms, while larger farms might not be as likely to move.

“The probability is going to be difficult because on a larger scale it’s difficult for these people to manage or micromanage their entire crop,” Yakaboski said.

Issacs sees this as a start for many farmers to switch to organic farming.

“Because it’s hard work and there’s a learning curve and there has to be that support to get the farmer through the first three to four years of implementation after nature takes over, and it’s the sauce after that,” Issacs said.

More information is available on the USDA website.

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