Betsy Rakola, USDA National Organic Program - Organic Certification Cost Share Program
The Organic Certification Cost Share Program reimburses eligible producers and handlers for a portion of the costs of organic certification.
Producers and handlers who have received certification or a renewal of certification from an accredited certifying agent (ACA) are eligible to participate. The program is not competitive. To view a list of ACAs in your state, see http://www.ams.usda.gov/services/organic-certification/certifying-agents. For more information on organic certification, see the eOrganic articles on organic certification and the National Organic Program website.
The cost of organic certification may be prohibitive for some. By offering reimbursement for certification-related expenses, the USDA recognizes the cost of regulation and makes certification more affordable.
State agencies (typically Departments of Agriculture) work with the USDA to administer the program. After entering into a cooperative agreement, the state agencies process applications for cost share funds, and the USDA reimburses them. Applicants typically submit a one-page application form, along with proof of certification and an itemized invoice, to their state Department of Agriculture. After the state agency reviews the application, they may reimburse the applicant for 75% of the cost of certification, up to a maximum of $750 per operation per year.
To find contact information for your state, see http://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/OCCSP%20State%20POC.pdf.
There are two sources of funding: the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) Program. Funds are made available each fiscal year on a state-by-state basis. Each state receives an allocation, which is roughly proportional to its historical activity and its number of certified organic operations. In Fiscal Year 2011, allocations ranged from $5,000 to $1,050,000 per state/territory.
Visit the USDA Organic Certification Cost Share Program website.
Contact Rita Meade, the Organic Certification Cost Share Program manager, at (202)260-8636 or Rita.Meade@ams.usda.gov
This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.