ASU Swette Center given lead role in USDA Program: $100 million to support transitioning and existing organic producers

As part of USDA’s $100 Million Dollar Transition to Organic Partnerships Program (TOPP), the ASU Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems will serve as the state lead to support farmers across Arizona as they transition to organic farming systems. This is a nation-wide collaboration led by the National Organic Program that will build programs specifically designed for farmers transitioning to organic practices and will include farmer-to-farmer mentorship, technical assistance, workforce development, and community building initiatives. This work is funded by a 5-year cooperative agreement overseen by the Western/Southwestern Regional Center for Organic Transition, housed at the non-profit organic certifier California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). 

“The Swette Center is honored to be the state lead for Arizona in this important USDA program. We are looking forward to creating an improved and strengthened organic infrastructure that will better serve Arizona’s producers, support the growing interest in organic production, and strengthen consumer trust in the USDA organic label,” said Suzanne Palmieri, Swette Center Director of Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives.

The TOPP partnership network covers six regions: the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Plains, Northwest, and West/Southwest. Organizations in these regions are actively forming partnerships to serve transitioning and existing organic farmers.

“The organic community is known for strong local collaboration and providing farmer-to-farmer support,” USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt explained. “TOPP will build on this spirit, while bringing organic to new communities of farmers and consumers.”

Want to get paid for transitioning to organic or helping farmers in their transition? The Swette Center is currently recruiting the following individuals and groups to participate in this program in Arizona at various levels:

  • Mentor farmers who have operated certified organic farms for at least three years that are interested in assisting mentee farmers as they transition their farms for certification. Mentors will receive financial compensation for their time.
  • Farmers looking to transition to organic: if you are operating a farm and would like the assistance of an experienced organic farmer during your transition to organic, we welcome you to join our group of mentee farmers. Compensation for mentees is also available.
  • Partner organizations which wish to help grow the program.
  • Technical experts who are interested in helping provide guidance on specific topics, skills, or areas of interest to farmers who are transitioning to organic methods.

If you’re located in Arizona and interested in participating in TOPP, please fill out the form linked below to express your interest. Upon completion, the Swette Center will be in touch to discuss the program, your potential role, and how to apply in more detail.


Additionally, you can visit the USDA website for more information about TOPP and to view an interactive map with the organizations establishing the partnership network.

About the Swette Center:
The Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems develops innovative ideas and solutions to the many challenges of current food systems. Taking a holistic and transdisciplinary approach, the Center’s work encompasses water and energy use, carbon footprint and nutrition, innovations in ag-tech, and the well-being and livelihood of farmers and others working in food systems.

For more information about the ASU Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems, visit their website.


Suzanne Palmieri, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives

[email protected]

PO Box 878204, Tempe, AZ 85287-8204