USDA expands certification cost-share program

by Erica Shaffer
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 USDA
Producers, handlers with organic or transition certifications can apply for federal reimbursement.
 
WASHINGTON – Certified producers or handlers who have paid fees for organic or transition certifications are eligible to participate in a certification cost-share reimbursement program, the US Dept. of Agriculture recently announced.

 

Starting March 20, 2017, organic producers and handlers can visit more than 2,100 USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices around the United States to apply for federal reimbursement for costs associated with receiving and maintaining organic or transitional certification. Items that are eligible for reimbursement include application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement/ arrangement requirements, travel/per diem for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage.

 “USDA is committed to helping the organic sector grow and thrive through a wide variety of programs, and part of that commitment is making it easy for stakeholders to access our services,” FSA Administrator Val Dolcini said in a statement. “That’s why, starting March 20, producers will be able to visit their local FSA offices to access organic certification cost-share reimbursements for up to 75 percent of the cost of organic certification. This will provide a more uniform, streamlined process nationwide; and it will give organic producers a chance to learn about other valuable USDA resources, like farm loans and conservation assistance that can help them succeed.”

In addition to transition and organic certifications, certified producers and handlers are eligible to receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of certification costs annually up to a maximum of $750 per certification scope — crops, livestock, wild crops and handling.

The initiative is aimed at increasing participation in the National Organic Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost Share Program, USDA said. The agency also wants to provide more opportunities for organic producers to access the full range of USDA programs which include disaster protection and loans for farms, facilities and marketing. States previously administered the cost share program; however states that want to continue administering the program can do so by applying for funding by Feb. 17, according to USDA.

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