Agricultural producers and handlers who are certified organic or those who are looking to transition into marketing their products as organically produced can apply to U.S. Department of Agriculture programs that will help to defray the costs of the certification and other expenses. The two programs that help with these costs are the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program and Organic Certification Cost Share Program.
“By helping with organic certification costs — long identified as a barrier to certification — USDA has helped producers participate in new markets while investing in the long-term health of their operations,” said Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “We launched the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program to build on the support offered through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program and provide additional assistance to organic and transitioning producers weathering the continued market impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
According to a news release from the USDA, the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program covers:
- Certification costs for organic producers and handlers (25 percent up to $250 per category)
- Eligible expenses for transitional producers, including fees for pre-certification inspections and development of an organic system plan (75 percent up to $750)
- Registration fees for educational events (75 percent up to $200)
- Soil testing (75 percent up to $100)
Meanwhile, the Organic Certification Cost Share Program covers 50 percent or up to $500 per category of certification costs in 2022. This cost share for certification is available for each of these categories: crops, wild crops, livestock, processing/handling and State organic program fees.
Both programs cover costs incurred from October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022. Producers have until October 31, 2022 to file applications, and the FSA will make payments as applications are received.
To apply, producers and handlers should contact the Farm Service Agency at their local USDA Service Center. As part of completing the Organic Certification Cost Share Program applications, producers and handlers will need to provide documentation of their organic certification and eligible expenses. Organic producers and handlers may also apply for that through participating state agencies.