Producers and handlers can now access $13 million in farm bill funds to help offset the costs of organic certification.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release that the money is in response to increasing consumer demands for organic products.
“To meet this demand we need to make sure that small farmers who choose to grow organic products can afford to get certified,” Vilsack said July 17 in the release announcing the availability of the money. “Organic food is now a multi-billion dollar industry, and helping this sector continue to grow creates jobs across the country.”
The National Organic Program, which is part of USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service, reports that certification costs range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
“Actual certification costs or fees vary widely depending on the certifying agent and the size, type, and complexity of your operation,” according to the AMS website. “Typically, there is an application fee, annual renewal fee, assessment on annual production or sales, and inspection fees.”
The certification cost-share assistance is limited to 75% of an applicant’s costs, up to a maximum of $750 per certification, according to the news release. The current $13 million in assistance is only applicable for certification expenses incurred from Oct. 1, 2013, through Sept. 30 this year.
Each state has its own guidelines and requirements for certification cost-share assistance. Applicants should contact state agencies for details, according to the release. Contact information is available at www.ams.usda.gov/NOPCostSharing.
The USDA issued almost 10,000 cost-share reimbursements totaling more than $6.5 million in 2012, according to the release.