Building the capacity of organic farmers, extension agents, and agriculture professionals.
The Organic Carolinas Initiative (OCI) is a comprehensive, long-term strategy to build the organic agriculture community in the Carolinas. The goal of this initiative is to build on regional assets and successes to establish a world-class organics industry in the Carolinas, and double the size of the organics sector in the region by 2020.
The Organic Carolinas Initiative has three critical objectives:
- Develop local, cost-effective, reliable sources of organic agricultural inputs.
- Build the capacity of organic producers in the Carolinas to expand markets and increase revenues.
- Improve the local food supply chain, creating jobs in rural communities and increasing markets for local, organic foods.
Objective 1: Expanding access to critical organic inputs
Farmers in the Carolinas have consistently identified the limited supply of agricultural inputs for organic crop and livestock production as one of the most significant obstacles to increasing organic production in the region. The lack of these inputs creates major barriers for farmers transitioning to or expanding organic production.
And this lack of supply contributes to higher prices that organic farmers must pay for what is available. This limits profitability and makes it more challenging for producers to create effective Organic Systems Plans.
> Learn more about how the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association is working toward solutions to these challenges.
Objective 2: Building the capacity of organic producers in the Carolinas
The organic industry in the Carolinas cannot expand without a strong and dynamic base of educational support for new and existing organic farmers, including research-based farm business management tools, certification guidance manuals, and improved record-keeping tools. Tools and training are essential for the region to achieve sufficient increases in organic crop production to sustain input purchasing agreements, supply newly-created intermediary businesses, or prove to policymakers that support for the industry is warranted.
> Learn more about how CFSA is tackling these challenges.
Objective 3: Enhancing the organic food supply chain
Farmers cannot meet customer demands without a well-functioning processing, storage, and distribution infrastructure. Supply of local organic products has been lagging demand for more than a decade, and organic product suppliers from around the country – and the globe – have been filling the vacuum.
To build this infrastructure, The Organic Carolinas Initiative works to:
- Assess crop storage, processing and distribution infrastructure in the Carolinas.
- Address systemic bottlenecks to establishing sustainable end-user markets and expanding local, organic food and farming.
- Expand local storage, processing, distribution, and marketing of organic crops.
- Help the organic industry as a whole avoid piecemeal approaches that waste resources.
> Contact Karen McSwain, CFSA’s Farm Services & Food Systems Director
The Organic Initiative is supported by funding from the USDA Specialty Crops Block Grant Program and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company.