WASHINGTON, July 17, 2014 – USDA is making available $13 million in 2014 Farm Bill funding to partially reimburse farmers seeking certification for organic production.
“Consumer demand for organic products is surging across the country,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release. “To meet this demand, we need to make sure that small farmers who choose to grow organic products can afford to get certified. Organic food is now a multi-billion dollar industry, and helping this sector continue to grow creates jobs across the country.”
The funds are distributed through two programs within the Agricultural Marketing Service. Some $11.5 million is available to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories through the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program. An additional $1.5 million is earmarked for organic operations in Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming through the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost-Share Program,
These programs provide cost-share assistance through participating states to USDA certified organic producers and handlers for certification-related expenses they incur from Oct. 1, 2013, through September 30, 2014. Payments cover up to 75 percent of an individual producer's or handler's certification costs, up to a maximum of $750 per certification. To receive cost-share assistance, organic producers and handlers should contact their state agencies. Each state will have their own guidelines and requirements for reimbursement. State contact information can be found on the NOP Cost Share Website.
In 2012 alone, USDA issued close to 10,000 cost-share reimbursements totaling over $6.5 million, to support the organic industry and rural America. Additional information about resources available to small and mid-sized producers, including accessing capital, risk management, locating market opportunities and land management is available on USDA's Small and Mid-Sized Farmer Resources webpage.
USDA says the funding is the latest example of its expanded efforts to assist organic farmers. It said that during the Obama administration USDA has signed four major trade agreements on organic products, and is also helping organic stakeholders access programs that support conservation, provide access to loans and grants, fund organic research and education, and mitigate pest emergencies. According to USDA, the National Organic Program has helped organic farmers and businesses achieve $35 billion annually in U.S. retail sales.
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