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USDA encourages organic farmers to participate in reimbursement program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering organic producers and handlers federal reimbursement to cover the cost of organic certification.

As Kansas Agland reports, starting March 20, organic producers and handlers will be able to visit any of the USDA’s 2,100 Farm Service Agencies (FSAs)to apply for reimbursement.

FSA Administrator Val Dolcini said the USDA reimburses up to 75 percent of the cost of organic certification but only half of organic operations in the country participate in the program, so the USDA is making changes to increase participation in the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost Share Program, and to provide more opportunities for organic producers to access other USDA programs, such as disaster protection and loans for farms, facilities and marketing more uniform and streamlined for organic producers to apply for assistance by mail or in person.

In the past, many state departments of agriculture have obtained grants to disburse reimbursements to those producers and handlers that qualify for cost-share assistance and FSA will continue to partner with those states that want to continue directly administering the programs. Applications through those programs are due by Feb. 17.

According to Kansas Agland, 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, and once certified organic 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.

For more information, visit the USDA's website.