WASHINGTON — Organic farmers in Virginia can apply for federal funds to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic certification through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Organic Certification Cost-Share Program.
Certified operators may receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of certification costs paid during the year, not to exceed $750 per certification. Applications for fiscal 2019 funding are due Oct. 31.
“Certified organic farms in Virginia tend to be very small,” said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “About half of the farms sold less than $50,000 of organic product in 2017, according to USDA. Many other small farms producing organic products are not certified due to the costs involved. So, cost-share assistance can be very helpful to farmers electing to become certified under the National Organic Program.”
Eligible producers include any certified farmers or handlers who have paid organic certification fees to a USDA-accredited certifying agent. Expenses eligible 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.
Organic producers can take advantage of a variety of USDA programs such as help with field buffers, routine operating expenses or storage and handling equipment.
To learn more about organic certification cost share, please visit www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/occsp/index or contact your USDA Farm Service Agency county office.