August 23, 2013
The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) released a notice of funds availability for the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) Organic Certification Cost-Share Program earlier this week in the Federal Register. The notice invites 16 states (Northeastern states plus Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming) to submit a grant application to AMS for organic certification cost-share funds, totaling over $1.3 million.
The program helps defray costs of organic certification for organic crop and livestock producers. Eligible producers can receive up to 75 percent of the certification costs, up to a maximum of $750. Organic certification is an annual process and cost for organic producers and handlers.
Eligible states, including the 11 Northeastern states as well as Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming, may apply by the August 30 deadline.* Application information and further details can be found in the USDA notice.
Normally, this organic certification cost-share program run through AMA is administered alongside a national program — the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program — that provides cost-share to organic producers in the other 34 states and organic handlers. However, without a new farm bill and due to the awful farm bill extension passed in January, the national program is on hold and has no funding. The separate AMA program does not rely on the farm bill for funding so is able to continue to serve the 16 states.
The Senate-passed version of the 2013 Farm Bill streamlined organic certification cost-share by combining the AMA program with the larger National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program. The Senate farm bill also increased the funding for the new combined program so that all certified organic farmers and handlers interested in the program could participate. Despite the program’s broad appeal, the House 2013 Farm Bill repealed the national program.
Until Congress passes a farm bill and provides funding for the national program, only farmers in the 16 AMA states can participate in the program. Farmers in the other 34 states and handlers nationwide are, for now, out of luck.
*An earlier version of this post inaccurately stated 12 Northeastern states. There are 11 eligible Northeastern states (CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT) as well as NV, UT, WY, WV, and HI.