Organic Transition Pilot Program Released
California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announced the release of the Organic Transition Pilot (OTP) block grant program, which will fund assistance to farmers and ranchers who want to transition land to organic certification. Through this solicitation CDFA will award up to $9.5 million to eligible organizations with award amounts ranging from $500,000 to $2 million. Applications are due by September 15, 2023.
What is the purpose of the OTP program?
This program is designed to provide direct financial assistance for eligible expenditures and improve access to knowledge and technical assistance, including business planning, for farmers and ranchers with land under transition to organic (pre-certification).
What are the program objectives?
The OTP program has four objectives, as summarized below. (See OTP’s Request for Grant Applications for a detailed explanation.) Applicants must propose to engage in all objectives to secure funding:
1. Select Farmers and Ranchers: Carry out an outreach and selection process of commercial farmers and ranchers to receive assistance in organic transition.
2. Organic Transition Training and Support: Provide on-farm, one-on-one technical assistance and outreach to farmers or ranchers who have acres that are under transition to organic production but are not yet certified organic.
3. Organic Business Planning: Coordinate or provide business planning assistance to farmers or ranchers who have acres that have not yet completed three years under certification.
4. Disburse Financial Assistance: Direct financial assistance to farmers who own, lease or rent actively farmed agricultural land that is undergoing a mandatory 3-year transition in preparation for organic certification.
Does the OTP program have any special requirements or considerations?
Direct financial assistance to farmers must comprise at least 70 percent of the total grant award. Up to 15 percent of the grant award can be requested for administrative costs and up to 15 percent for technical and implementation assistance costs.
Additionally, grant recipients must prioritize assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers (SDFR; see definition in this program’s Request for Grant Applications), seeking to support a group of farmers and ranchers who are at least 50% SDFRs, both for financial assistance and technical assistance.
Who is eligible to apply?
The following entities are eligible to apply for OTP grants:
- Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs)
- University of California, California Community Colleges, or California State Universities
- Non-profit organizations
- California Native American Tribes
Entities applying for OTP grants must have demonstrated expertise in disbursement of funds and outreach for agricultural practices. If they do not have sufficient in-house capabilities to meet all of the four required objectives, lead applicants are encouraged to partner with organizations who have relevant experience.
Who is eligible to receive technical and financial assistance?
California farmers, ranchers, including California Native American Tribal members, and farm lessees, including urban farmers, are eligible to receive technical and financial assistance from OTP block grant recipients as long as they have tenure over land that is in organic transition and not yet certified.
An individual farmer or rancher is limited to receiving general assistance of up to $30,000 and field preparation assistance of up to $30,000, for a combined maximum award of $60,000 in financial assistance. Multiple individual farmers may not receive funding to transition the same physical fields.
What are the funding limits and match requirement?
There is $9.5 million available with grant awards ranging from $500,000 to $2 million. The program’s Request for Grant Application does not mention a match or cost-share requirement.
What is the award timeline?
Applications are due by September 15, 2023 at 5pm Pacific time. Awards are expected to be announced by October 2023 with the grant term beginning late Fall 2023. The grant term is up to 48 months.
The full Request for Grant Applications can be found here.
For more information on this program or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 530-893-4764