USDA Streamlines Access to Cost Share Program

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Beginning March 20, 2017, organic producers and handlers will be able to visit over 2,100 USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices nationwide to apply for federal reimbursement for costs related to receiving and maintaining organic or transitional certification.

USDA hopes that providing access to local FSA offices will increase participation in the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost Share Program, while also providing more opportunities for organic producers to access the full range of USDA programs, such as disaster protection and loans for farms, facilities and marketing. Producers can also access information on nonfederal agricultural resources, and get referrals to local experts, including organic agriculture, through USDA's Bridges to Opportunity service at the local FSA office.

In the past, state departments of agriculture administered the cost share programs. States that still want to administer the program will have the opportunity to do so by applying for funding by Feb. 17, 2017.

Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers who have paid organic or transitional certification fees to a USDA-accredited certifying agent. Application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement/ arrangement requirements, travel/per diem for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage are all eligible for a cost share reimbursement from USDA.

Once certified, producers and handlers are eligible to receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of certification costs each year up to a maximum of $750 per certification scope—crops, livestock, wild crops and handling. USDA has added transitional certification and state organic program fees as additional scopes.

To learn more about organic certification cost share, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/organic or contact a local FSA office by visiting http://offices.usda.gov.

To learn more about USDA support for organic agriculture, visit www.usda.gov/organic.