Applications for cost-share grants for growers’ organic certification expenses are due in some states by Sept. 30, according to National Organics Program officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Growers can use the grants to pay for up to 75% of their certification costs, up to a maximum of $750. Each state has its own application process and deadlines. Utah does not participate because state officials there say they don’t have enough staff to administer the program.
The grant program is not competitive. Money is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, according to a notice from the NOP. Two USDA programs contribute money to the grants: the Agricultural Management Assistance program and the National Organic Certification Cost-Share program.
In a 2012 report to Congress, USDA officials said the programs provided almost $7.25 million total in allocations for federal fiscal year 2012. The average grant award was $662.
Most states’ applications require growers to provide: proof of USDA organic certification; an itemized invoice showing expenses paid for certification; and a W-9 tax form. A list of state contacts is available at http://tinyurl.com/CostShareContacts. Information is also available by calling 202-720-3252.
Most certification-related expenses are eligible for reimbursement. However, items such as late fees, inspections due to noncompliance, and inspections for certifications other than USDA Organic — such “Bird Friendly” — are not eligible for these grants.