Midwest Transition to Organic Partnership Program


The Midwest Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP) is a coalition of partners across 11 states providing mentorship, technical assistance, and wrap-around support for transitioning and existing organic producers. This 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 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.


The National Organic Program considers farmer mentorship to be the cornerstone of TOPP. Mentoring is a reciprocal relationship that through support, belonging and trust engenders community building. It is generally defined as a developmental relationship between a mentor and a mentee who have different levels of expertise and skill. A successful relationship between the two, facilitates an opportunity to build and enhance skills while also providing psychological safety and encouragement through friendship that is formed throughout a mentorship. A one-to-one mentorship program under the TOPP program will strengthen the organic community by building relationships between producers, encouraging creative solutions, and providing a social safety net.


Apply to be a mentor or mentee through the USDA TOPP page. An OAK staff member will contact you to learn more about your goals and farming operation to get started. Cohorts starting Winter 2024! 

Apply Here


Organic Farmer Mentorship and Organic Transition Resources


The mentor will receive an annual stipend, and will:

  • Be provided training.
  • Be expected to commit 45 hours per annual program cycle (12 months on a rolling calendar cycle).
  • Will participate in a minimum of two, on-farm visits per year (one at mentor farm and one at mentee farm).
  • Will have at least three touch points during the growing season with mentee.
  • Assist mentees in creating/reviewing and Organic System Plan and completing a farm assessment. 

The mentee will:

  • Be expected to commit to 45 hours per yearly program cycle (12 months on a rolling calendar cycle).
  • Will participate in a minimum of 2 on-farm visits per year (one at mentee farm and one at mentor farm).
  • Will have at least 3 touch points during the growing season with a mentor.
  • Commit to a 2-5 year relationship with a mentor.
  • Will create an Organic System Plan and complete a farm assessment.


Mentor Core Qualifications, a mentor will:

  • Have substantial farming experience (specific to the region).
  • Be currently certified in good standing or have at least three years of experience with organic certification (retired producers welcome).
  • Possess a strong understanding of the organic rule; challenges and benefits of farming organically; and the process of transitioning to certified organic production.
  • Possess a willingness to share openly and candidly with mentee.
  • Possess a willingness to engage in problem solving, and a desire to give back to the farming community.

Mentee Core Qualifications, a mentee will:

  • Plan to (or are in the process of) transitioning an existing operation to organic, add new organic acreage, add new scopes of organic certification, and/or start a new, certified organic operation. 
  • Commit to pursuing organic certification. 
  • Have a strong curiosity about organic farming.


Learn more about the national collaborations that are powering the Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP) here.  



USDA National Organic Program TOPP