As Americans become increasingly interested in organic produce options, support from the 2014 Farm Bill aims to widen the scope of organic certification, for farms of all sizes across the country. Cost share and assistance programs are now available to organic producers and handlers through the 2018 fiscal year, writes Miles McEvoy, deputy administrator of the National Organic Program, on the USDA blog.
Through funds administered by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, small organic farms that need assistance can get 75 percent of the cost of each certification covered, up to a maximum of $750 annually per certification.
Beyond small farms, producers of all sizes can benefit from cost share programs by absorbing some of the cost of organic expansion. “Suppose a certified organic fruit and vegetable grower is interested in launching an organic processing operation,” writes McEvoy. “Cost share assistance can help by reducing the cost of broadening and expanding the scope of the farm and exploring new opportunities.”
So far, certification has helped organic farmers and businesses make $35 billion in annual sales, and increasing support for certification allows greater support for small organic growers with slim margins.
“The organic certification cost share program puts organic certification within reach for farms of all sizes,” said Liana Hoodes, executive director of the National Organic Coalition. “It is of great value to organic farmers and supports the integrity of the organic label.”
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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.