The required three-year transition to convert a conventional field to organic can be a deterrent for some would-be organic farmers. Those 36 long, long months often put the farmer in the worst of both worlds: the land must be managed organically, but the crop must be marketed as conventional.
The higher cost of organic products might lead consumers to reach for the cheaper conventional version, even if they would prefer to buy organic. We don’t have to know all of the reasons why organic products are more expensive than their conventional counterparts; basic economics tells us that demand far exceeds supply.
Considering the two sides of the organic market mentioned above, and that the mission of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is to create marketing opportunities for agricultural products and ensure the quality and availability of wholesome food, it’s not surprising that the USDA is rolling out a formalized transitional organic option, called the National Certified Transitional Program (NCTP). The first step is for certifying agencies get accredited to be able to offer the new, standardized transitional certification. According to AMS’s January 11 news release,