USDA funding will help farmers with organic certification costs

USDA funding will help farmers with organic certification costs

USDA says program helps more businesses take advantage of the 'economic opportunity' of organic certification

USDA's Ag Marketing Service has nearly $12 million available to farmers to help defray organic certification costs, the agency announced last week.

Related: Organic food industry to ask USDA for checkoff referendum

The organic industry saw record growth in 2014, accounting for over $39 billion in retail sales in the United States, according to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.

"The organic certification cost share programs help more organic businesses succeed and take advantage of economic opportunities in this growing market," he said in a statement.

USDA says program helps more businesses take advantage of the 'economic opportunity' of organic certification. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The funding is provided on a cost share basis and certification assistance is distributed by two programs. Through the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, $11 million is available to organic farms and businesses nationwide.

Through the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost Share Program, an additional $900,000 is available to organic producers (crop and livestock operators only) in Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

These programs provide cost share assistance to USDA certified organic producers and handlers, covering as much as 75% of an individual applicant's certification costs, up to a maximum of $750 annually per certification scope.

Related: USDA: 250% increase in number of organic farmers since 2002

In 2014, USDA issued nearly 10,000 reimbursements totaling over $6 million, providing critical support to the organic community.

To receive cost share assistance, certified organic producers and handlers should contact their appropriate state agencies via the contact information on the National Organic Program's cost share website.

Each state has its own guidelines and requirements for reimbursement, and NOP assists states to successfully implement the programs.

Applicants for cost share assistance through the AMA program are encouraged to apply early, as these funds are only available through Sept. 30, 2015.

Source: USDA

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