The Midwest Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP) is a coalition of partners providing mentorship, technical assistance, and wrap-around support for transitioning and existing organic producers.
Our coalition of partners serves producers in Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
Through TOPP, the Midwest Regional Center and its partner organizations will connect farmers transitioning to organic with local, experienced organic mentors; provide farmer training and education; provide education and technical assistance on agronomy, organic certification, extension, conservation planning, organic regulations, certification cost share, business development, and marketing; build networks and strengthen the organic community; develop and expand access to technical assistance and training; and support workforce training and development.
TOPP Mentorship Program: Connecting Organic Producers
The TOPP Mentorship Program connects experienced organic producers with producers transitioning to organic. Mentorships are available in Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin
Experienced organic producers will be matched with producers transitioning to organic. The experienced organic producer will provide support to the transitioning producer throughout the transition process. MW TOPP will provide training, guidance and support for a successful relationship between a mentor and a transitioning producer. Successful mentors may come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, including various production models and cultural backgrounds.
Mentors and transitioning producers will collaborate to set goals and build a communication system that works best for their individual needs and preferences. Neither the mentor nor the transitioning producer is expected to work on the other’s operation.
MW TOPP is currently accepting mentors and transitioning producers into our TOPP mentorship program.
Contact TOPP@MOSAOrganic.org for more information. Online application.
TOPP Mentors: Pay it Forward
Midwest TOPP is seeking experienced certified organic producers (or retired organic producers) who are passionate about organic production and who would like to share their expertise as a mentor to a producer transitioning their operation to organic production. This is a paid mentoring opportunity including paid training, mentorship time, and travel. All crop and livestock producers in the Midwest TOPP Region (Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin) are encouraged to apply! As a certifier-neutral program, you may be certified with any certification agency to participate.
Program Requirements for Mentors:
At least 3 years of experience with organic production and certification
Ability to meet 45 hours/year commitment
Strong understanding of the Organic Rule and of the challenges and benefits of organic production and certification
Interest in mentoring, teaching, sharing your knowledge and experiences
Mentors receive $3,000/year of participation
Additional stipend for mentors with more than one mentee
Multi-lingual applicants may be eligible for additional compensation
Mentor applications are accepted on a rolling basis
Learn more about being a TOPP mentor (INSERT LINK Position Description)
Contact TOPP@MOSAOrganic.org to express your interest in being a mentor today!
Receive Support and Guidance as You Transition your Operation to Organic Production
Are you transitioning your operation to organic production methods, or have you been using organic production methods and now you would like to have your operation become USDA certified organic? Apply now to be matched with a mentor who will support and guide you through the transition process. Your mentor will share their experience and knowledge of their similar production model with you, they will provide advice for best practices, and they may assist with writing your organic systems plan. Owners, managers, and operation employees are encouraged to apply as mentees, you just need to be planning to develop an organic system plan and intending to apply for organic certification.
This is a free mentorship opportunity for all crop and livestock producers planning to transition an existing operation to organic production methods, in the process of transitioning an operation, or planning to add new organic acreage (or production scope) to their existing certified organic operation in the eleven state, Midwest TOPP Region (Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin)
As a certifier-neutral program, you may seek certification with the certification agency of your choice.
Are you ready to sign up to participate? Contact TOPP@MOSAOrganic.org to get started. Online application.
Technical Assistance for Transitioning to Organic Production
Midwest TOPP will deliver technical assistance through a variety of field days, workshops, webinars, one-on-one support, and conferences. These will cover a broad range of topics that will support a successful transition to organic production and certification. Possible topics may include organic regulations, recordkeeping, organic certification, business planning, market development, conservation planning, agronomy, or production practices.
Technical assistance services are still in development. Let us know if you are interested in learning more about these events and we will include you on our mailing list.
Contact TOPP@MOSAOrganic.org if you are interested in learning more about technical assistance events and resources.
Meet Our Partners
Our coalition of partners collaborates to bring our region innovative solutions to support producers in the organic transition process, build community, and develop capacity in the organic workforce. Our partners represent state departments of agriculture, education institutions, organic certifiers and non-profit organizations.
Does your organization have a presence in our Midwest Region (Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin)?
Could your organization support farmer mentorship, technical assistance, community building or workforce development? Contact TOPP@MOSAOrganic.org to get started.
Allison Walent, Program Director
USDA Organic Transition Links
Food System Transformation Initiative