Organic producers and handlers can now apply for USDA funds to assist with the cost of receiving or maintaining organic certification. Applications for the Organic Certification Cost Share Program are due Nov. 1, 2021. Certified operations may receive up to 50% of their certification costs paid during the program year, not to exceed $500 per certification scope.
“USDA is here to help all producers, including those who grow our nation’s organic food and fiber. Many farmers have told us that cost was a barrier to their ability to get an organic certification,” says Zach Ducheneaux, administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency. “By assisting with the costs, this program can help organic farmers get their certification along with the benefits that come with it.”
OCCSP provides cost-share assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products for the costs of obtaining or maintaining organic certification under the USDA’s National Organic Program. Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers who have paid organic certification fees to a USDA-accredited certifying agent during the 2021 and any subsequent program year. Producers can be reimbursed for expenses made between Oct. 1, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2021 including application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement and arrangement requirements, travel expenses for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage.
For 2021, OCCSP will reimburse 50% of a certified operation’s allowable certification costs, up to a maximum of $500 for each of the following categories (or “scopes”):
- wild crops
- State organic program fees
Organic farmers and ranchers may apply through an Farm Service Agency county office or a participating state agency.
This funding will be complemented by an additional $20 million for organic and transitioning producers through the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. More information on that funding will be available in the coming weeks.
Under the 2019 National OCCSP, $1.876 million was available under the 2018 Farm Bill, and $14.698 million in unobligated funding was available from prior years. FSA allocated $9.6 million to the 30 State agencies that signed grant agreements. These state agencies subsequently disbursed an estimated $6.9 million in cost share assistance to 9,405 qualifying organic operations.
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