USDA offers cost-share opportunities for organic producers
Published 12:29 pm Wednesday, April 12, 2017
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that since March 20, organic producers and handlers have been able to visit over 2,100 USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices to apply for federal reimbursement to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic or transitional certification.
“USDA reimburses organic producers up to 75 percent of the cost of organic certification, but only about half of the nation’s organic operations currently participate in the program,” said FSA Administrator Val Dolcini in a press release. “Starting March 20, USDA will provide a uniform, streamlined process for organic producers and handlers to apply for organic cost share assistance either by mail or in person at USDA offices located in almost every rural county in the country.”
“USDA is making changes to increase participation in the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost Share Program, and at the same time, provide more opportunities for organic producers to access other USDA programs, such as disaster protection and loans for farms, facilities and marketing.” officials said in the press release. “Producers can also access information on nonfederal agricultural resources, and get referrals to local experts, including organic agriculture, through USDA’s Bridges to Opportunity service at the local FSA office.”
According to the release, eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers who have paid organic certification fees to a USDA-accredited certifying agent. “Application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement/ arrangement requirements, travel/per diem for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage are all eligible for a cost share reimbursement from USDA.”
Once certified, officials said producers and handlers are eligible to receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of certification costs each year up to a maximum of $750 per certification scope — crops, livestock, wild crops and handling.
“USDA is committed to helping organic agriculture grow and thrive. USDA strongly supports the organic sector through a wide variety of programs, including conservation grants, organic crop insurance, certification cost-share, organic market news, and simplified microloans. To learn more about USDA support for organic agriculture, visit our updated organic portal at www.usda.gov/organic.”