USDA offers to help producers pay for organic certification

Organic hemp producers can now ask federal agriculture regulators for funds to assist them with the cost of applying for or maintaining organic certification.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that organic producers and handlers can apply for help covering the cost of applying for certification under the USDA’s National Organic Program through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program.

Applications are due Nov. 1.

Eligible producers include any organic certified producers or handlers who have paid organic certification fees to a USDA-accredited certifying agent during the 2021 and any subsequent program year.

Producers can be reimbursed for expenses incurred from Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021, including application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement and arrangement requirements, travel expenses for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage.

OCCSP will reimburse 50% of a certified operation’s allowable certification costs, up to $500 for each of the following categories:

  • Crops
  • Wild crops
  • Livestock
  • Processing/handling
  • State organic program fees

Organic farmers can apply through a USDA Farm Service Agency county office or participating state agency.

An additional $20 million for organic and transitioning producers through the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative will ultimately complement the OCCSP program, according to USDA, and the agency will provide additional information in the coming weeks.