Last month USDA announced $13 million in Farm Bill funding will be available for organic certification cost share assistance, a win for small and beginning farmers who want to go organic. Secretary Tom Vilsack said the move is in response to an increasing consumer demand for organic products, and USDA “need[s] to make sure that small farmers who choose to grow organic products can afford to get certified.”
Programs administered by the National Organic Program (NOP) through USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will manage the funds. The National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (NOCCSP) will make $11.5 million available to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 5 U.S. territories. The Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost Share Program (AMA) will make $1.5 million available to organic operations in Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
These non-competitive programs offer funding to help growers achieve and maintain their organic status. Cost share programs can reimburse up to 75 percent of certification costs incurred during 2014 (Oct. 1, 2013-Sept. 30, 2014), at up to $750 per category of certification. Participation in these programs is already high: in 2012, nearly 10,000 cost share reimbursements, worth $6.5 million, were issued.
According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), the deadline for state applications for cost share funding passed on June 20, 2014, and many states are not accepting applications at this time. However, states will soon be preparing to open the application process. For state-specific reimbursement information, visit the NOP Cost Share site. For an estimation of cost share funds allocated to your state, click here.
For additional information, you can contact Dana Stahl, USDA Organic Certification Cost Share Program Manager, Dana.Stahl@ams.usda.gov.