USDA Funding Available

Organic Certification Cost Share Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently announced the availability of $11.6 million in funding for the Organic Certification Cost Share Program. This program makes organic certification more affordable by reimbursing the costs organic farmers, ranchers, and handlers (i.e. packagers, processors, wholesalers) pay to certify.

Program Details
The Organic Certification Cost Share Program covers up to 75 percent of an individual applicant’s certification costs, up to a maximum of $750 annually. The National Organic Program (NOP) within AMS administers funding by distributing it to state agencies, and producers apply to their state's agency to receive funding.

The OCCSP is actually two programs — the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP), which has $10.7 million in funding for all 50 states, and the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) Organic Certification Cost Share Program, which has $932,000 for organic crop and livestock operators (but not handlers) in 15 states, including all 12 states in the NESAWG region plus Hawaii, Nevada, and Wyoming. The farm bill determines funding for both programs.  Read USDA's Request for Applications (directed towards state agencies) to see how much funding each state is allocated.

Unused funds from NOCCSP may be held over and used in the next fiscal year, all AMA funds must be used within the fiscal year in which they are allocated. Because producers in the 16 AMA states are eligible for reimbursement under both programs, State Agencies should exhaust AMA funds before using NOCCSP funds.

How to Apply
The USDA has identified four easy steps for an organic producer or handler to get reimbursed.

  1. If you’re not yet certified, get certified.
  2. If you are already a certified operation, contact your state agency.
  3. Submit your information – a short application and tax form, proof of certification, and itemized expenses.
  4. Get reimbursed by your state agency.

More Info
USDA AMS webpage on the OCCSP
USDA's News Release about the OCCSP
NSAC's blog post about the OCCSP

Photo Credit: USDA