The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a new certification programme intended to encourage farmers to go organic.
Under the USDA’s new National Certified Transitional Program (NCTP), accredited certifying agents (ACAs) will reportedly be allowed to certify so-called transitional organic products in accordance with harmonised standards developed by the Organic Trade Association (OTA), an organic food industry group. The certification process will allow producers to sell their products as "certified transitional" organic at a premium price, thereby helping to offset the cost of transitioning to organic farming methods, and facilitating the investment in transitional agriculture.
Current ACAs seeking to participate in the NCTP can file an application with the USDA’s AMS through February 28th, and a list of approved ACAs is expected to be published by mid-March. New certifying agents will be allowed to seek accreditation on an ongoing basis following the initial accreditation round.
A press release on the USDA’s new accreditation programme for transitional organic products is available here.