Consumers are increasingly looking for organic products when they visit the supermarket. Last year, organic products reached a record number of sales, accounting for over $39 billion in U.S. retail sales. To meet consumer demand, the industry needs more organic operations to produce everything from organic milk to organic granola bars.
Thanks to support from the 2014 Farm Bill, USDA has two cost share programs that assist organic farms and businesses with about $11 million per year in certification assistance– making it possible for producers and handlers of all sizes to consider organic certification. Cost share programs support certified operations across the organic supply chain by making certification more affordable.
The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administers these programs through grants to participating states. In 2014, USDA funding allowed states to issue nearly 10,000 reimbursements worth more than $6 million, helping the organic community thrive and grow.
“The U.S. is currently experiencing an explosion of demand for certified organic products and our goal is to see that demand is met by U.S. farmers,” said Abby Youngblood, Executive Director of the National Organic Coalition. “We expect that the organic cost share programs will encourage more U.S. farms to certify and/or add another certification scope to meet this demand.”
Cost share programs cover a wide range of certification-related expenses, and cover 75 percent of the cost of each certification, up to a maximum of $750 annually.
Here’s how it works:
- If you’re not yet certified, contact a certifier and get certified.
- If you are already a certified operation, contact your state agency;
- Submit your information – a short application and tax form, proof of certification, and itemized expenses; and
- Get reimbursed by your state agency.
“As a small seed company, the cost share program helped make becoming certified organic a reality for us,” said Ken Greene, Founder of the Hudson Valley Seed Library.
“We are proud of our certification, what it means about our seeds, and are committed to increasing the diversity and availability of certified organic seed for organic growers.”
Organic certification lets consumers know that the products they buy meet the USDA organic requirements. USDA has a number of new and expanded efforts to connect organic farmers and businesses with resources that will ensure the continued growth of the organic community.
To locate a particular state agency, or to see general information about organic cost share assistance, visit www.ams.usda.gov/NOPCostSharing.