Organic Certification Cost Share


The National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) makes financial assistance available to help defray the costs of organic certification for producers and handlers of organic products.  Producers and handlers can receive up to 75 percent of their annual certification costs up to a maximum payment of $750 per year.

Handlers in all states, and producers in every state except the 12 Northeast states plus HI, NV, UT, and WY, are eligible to receive cost share assistance under this program.  A separate but nearly identical program called the Agricultural Management Assistance Program provides cost share assistance to producers in the 12 Northeast states plus HI, NV, UT, and WY.

In either case, the assistance is made available to producers and handlers through the State Departments of Agriculture.   Recipients must be certified by a USDA accredited certifying agent under the National Organic Program.

2008 Farm Bill Changes

The 2008 Farm Bill reauthorizes the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program and provides an almost five-fold increase in mandatory funding for the program, from $5 million to $22 million.  The maximum annual payment per operation was increased from $500 to $750.

A reporting requirement was also added, requiring the Secretary to submit a report to Congress by March 1 of each year describing the requests by, disbursements to, and expenditures for each State under the program during the current and previous fiscal year, including the number of producers and handlers served by the program in the previous fiscal year.

Section 10301 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (FCEA) of 2008 amends Section 10606 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, to be codified at 7 U.S.C. Section 6523.

Funding

The farm bill makes $22 million in mandatory funding available beginning in FY 2008 until expended.  That amount is expected to be sufficient to cover all producer and handler requests for funding through the life of this farm bill (2008-2012).  The $22 million in funding is in addition to $1.5 million (a $0.5 million increase) that is available for the nearly identical but supplemental program (known as Agricultural Management Assistance or AMA) solely for the producers (but not handlers) in the 12 Northeast states plus HI, NV, UT, and WY.

The $22 million for NOCCSP will remain available to be spent as needed throughout the farm bill cycle through 2012.  For 2012, $5.35 million is available, which is the remainder of funding left of the initial $22 million.

Organic Certification Cost Share Funding

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

NOCCSP

$22m

>

>

>

>

AMA

$1.5m

$1.5m

$1.5m

$1.5m

$1.5m

Please note: The funding levels in the chart above show the amount of mandatory funding reserved by the 2008 Farm Bill for this program to be provided through USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation.  However, Congress does at times pass subsequent appropriations legislation that caps the funding level for a particular year for a particular program at less than provided by the farm bill in order to use the resulting savings to fund a different program.  Therefore, despite its “mandatory” status, the funding level for a given year could be less than the farm bill dictates should the Appropriations Committee decide to raid the farm bill to fund other programs under its jurisdiction.

Implementation Basics

The Agricultural Marketing Service will provide funding to State Departments of Agriculture. Producers and handlers will then need to apply to their respective State Departments of Agriculture to receive cost share funds. Generally, organic certifiers will be able to assist producers in applying for assistance.

Every year (likely in late summer or fall), AMS will release a notice in the Federal Register announcing the availability of funds through the program and inviting applications from states.   States will then have to apply and enter into cooperative agreements with AMS by a certain date.

Additional Resources

The National Organic Program of the Agricultural Marketing Service of USDA manages the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program.

Contact your State Agriculture Department to apply

Producers and handlers should contact their certifiers for additional information, or contact their State Department of Agriculture’s organic program.  A complete list of state contacts is available from the National Association of State Organic Programs here.