USDA provides new cost share opportunities for organic producers and handlers

By David Karki
Agronomy Field Specialist
Watertown Regional Extension Center

In recent times, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has shown increased interest in organic agriculture. As a result, on December 21st 2016, the USDA announced that starting March 20, 2017, organic producers and handlers will be able to visit over 2,100 USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices across the country to apply for federal reimbursement to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic or transitional certification. Organic producers through their local FSA office will be able to access organic certification cost-share reimbursements for up to 75 percent of the organic certification cost. By visiting local FSA offices, producers may also be able to learn about other valuation USDA resources such as farm loans and conservation assistance which can be utilized for overall farm success. These changes are part of the USDA effort to encourage participation in the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost Share Program. Further, it not only provides opportunities for organic producers to access a full range of USDA programs, such as disaster protection and loans for farms, facilities and marketing but also the platform to 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.

Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers who have paid organic or transitional 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, 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. This announcement also adds transitional certification and state organic program fees as additional scopes.

To learn more about organic certification cost share, please visit www.fsa.usda.gov/organic or contact a local FSA office by visiting http://offices.usda.gov

Details of this announcement can be accessed at: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDAOC/bulletins/17b5fb7