Connecting farmers and producers to USDA resources

Farm Forum

Consumer demand for organic products continues to grow across the country, representing a $35 billion dollar industry in 2013. To meet this demand, USDA has initiated a number of new and expanded efforts to connect organic farmers and businesses with the resources they need to ensure the continued growth of the organic sector domestically and abroad.

Some programs have the specific purpose of assisting organic farmers, ranchers, and handlers. Other programs are open to the general public, including organic operations. USDA has a one-stop-shop for information on all of our programs and opportunities for the organic community. From research and education, to market information and technical assistance, we have something for you.

The National Organic Program (NOP), part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, sets the standards for organic production and handling from farm to market. To learn more about what the organic seal means, take our 15-minute Organic 101 online training module. You can also take a look at the NOP’s fact sheets to find information on different organic topics. These plain-language resources will answer your basic questions about organic certification requirements.

• Certification cost share: If your business is certified organic, you could get up to a $750 reimbursement for your certification costs. Certified organic producers and handlers can get reimbursed for up to 75 percent of the cost of certification, up to $750 per year. You may apply for cost share each year. Contact your State’s department of agriculture to apply.

• Conservation assistance: Do you want to implement conservation practices on a transitioning or certified organic operation? Financial and technical assistance for implementing conservation practices are available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program’s Organic Initiative. To learn how to apply, please read Getting Started with Natural Resources Conservation Service, then contact your local NRCS field office for details.

• Market and price information: Perhaps you’re looking for market information to help you decide how to price and sell your products. USDA’s Market News publishes weekly organic price reports for different fruits and vegetables, livestock, poultry, grains, and dairy products. USDA’s Market News also has a new series of reports on locally or regionally produced agricultural products.

• Crop insurance: You might want to manage risk on your certified organic farm. Organic crop insurance is growing in new ways. The Risk Management Agency offers organic price elections for select crops, allowing you to insure your crops based on organic market prices. RMA has also introduced a Contract Price Option, which is available for organic farmers who receive a contract price for their crop. Under certain conditions, this new option allows organic producers to base their crop insurance price upon the price they receive from their marketing contract. Contact an approved insurance provider who can help you design an insurance plan for your operation.

These are just a few examples of the ways that USDA can help you grow your organic farm or business. For more detailed information, take a look at our Organic Resource Guide. The guide covers specific funding opportunities for organic agriculture and general programs that organic farmers can use, and it provides a website, email and phone number for each one. We look forward to working with you.