Aug 10, 2020
Oct. 31 deadline to apply for organic certification funds
Organic producers and handlers can apply for federal funds to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic certification through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP), according to a news release from the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).
Certification expenses paid between Oct. 1, 2019, and Sept. 30, 2020, are eligible. Applications are due Oct. 31, 2020.
“For producers producing food with organic certification, this program helps cover a portion of those certification costs,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said in the news release. “Contact your local FSA county office to learn more about this program and other valuable USDA resources, like farm loans and conservation assistance, that can help you succeed.”
OCCSP provides cost-share assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products for the costs of obtaining or maintaining organic certification under the USDA’s National Organic Program, according to the news release. Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers who have paid organic certification fees to a USDA-accredited certifying agent. Eligible expenses for cost-share reimbursement include application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement and arrangement requirements, travel expenses for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage.
Changes in Reimbursement
Due to expected participation levels and the limited funds available, FSA revised the reimbursement amount available through fiscal year 2023, according to the news release. Certified producers and handlers are now eligible to receive reimbursement for up to 50% of the certified organic operation’s eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $500 per scope.
This change is will allow a larger number of certified organic operations to receive assistance, according to the news release. If Congress authorizes additional funding, FSA may provide additional assistance to certified operations that have applied for OCCSP, not to exceed 75% of their eligible costs, up to $750 per scope.
The changes to the payment calculation and maximum payment amount are applicable to all certified organic operations, regardless of whether they apply through an FSA county office or a participating state agency, according to the news release. State agencies that are interested in overseeing reimbursements to producers and handlers in their states must establish new agreements with FSA for fiscal 2020.
To learn more about organic certification cost-share, please visit the OCCSP webpage, view the notice of funds availability on the Federal Register, or contact the FSA county office at the local USDA Service Center.
To learn more about USDA support for organic agriculture, visit usda.gov/organic.