When will the online classes be available? What will the cost be?

Judy L


I am a farmer. I want to move over to organic farming, thus I will require training. Where can you advise that I go for the training?

Ejimadu Uche


I have a friend who farms conventionally and does not believe it would be financially feasible to convert to organic, even though he would love to. How can I convince him?

Debbie Cowger


Your three questions came in one after another and provide a perfect springboard to tell you what we’re up to. With the help of a generous grant from the Risk Management Agency (RMA) of the USDA, we are developing an Online Organic Transition Course for farmers transitioning from conventional to organic agriculture. Just like all the services we provide—okay, we do charge for our nifty NewFarm.org hats—this course will be absolutely free and will culminate in a farm plan description that will be useful in meeting your certifier’s requirements. We’ve set a target launch date of January 1, 2005.

This course is designed for U.S. farmers who want to become certified under the National Organic Program and the new Organic Rule, which went into effect in October 2002. (This is not to say there won’t be valuable information for farmers outside the United States, but the program will be geared toward U.S. certification.) The New Farm® does have a Japanese-language version of our site (ww.newfarm.org/japan) as part of our ongoing partnership with Shumei International (www.shumei.org). And, our parent organization, The Rodale Institute®, has several projects on the ground in Senegal, West Africa. As these projects move forward, The New Farm will also be developing a website for farmers there.

Finally, the Economic Simulation Tool—also in development with RMA grant funds—will provide farmers with answers they can take to the bank; farmers like Debbie’s friend who may be on the fence wanting to make the switch to organic for health and environmental reasons but who are concerned about the bottom line. This new simulation tool will allow farmers to enter a wide range of variables and scenarios and help them evaluate the economic risks and benefits of transitioning. The tool will also cover the production and marketing steps necessary to sell certified organic farm goods.

So stay tuned, and please keep your comments, suggestions and questions coming.



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