Betsy Rakola, USDA National Organic Program - Organic Certification Cost Share Program
What is the National 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.
Who is eligible?
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.
Why is it important?
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.
How does it work?
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.
How much money is available?
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.
- NOCCSP: In FY 2015, Congress allocated $10.3 million for the NOCCSP on a one-time basis as a part of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.
- AMA: Authorized by the Federal Crop Insurance Act in 2001, the AMA Program authorizes cost share assistance to producers of organic agricultural products in Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. In FY 2015, $900.000 will be available. To prevent double payments, producers participating in the AMA program are not eligible to participate in the producer portion of the NOCCSP.
Want more information?
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