Montgomery, AL – Growers and handlers of organic agricultural products now can recover part of the cost of their USDA certification. The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) will be allocated $15,800 to reimburse producers and handlers who either obtain or renew their organic certification in the federal fiscal year that ends September 30, 2015. The reimbursement covers 75 percent of certification costs, up to a maximum of $750.
The Organic Certification Cost Share Programs (OCCSP) reimburse eligible organic crop and livestock producers and handlers for a portion of their organic certification costs. The OCCSP consist of the following two programs authorized by separate pieces of legislation: the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) authorized by the Agriculture Act of 2014, commonly known as the Farm Bill, and the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) authorized by the Federal Crop Insurance Act of 2001.
“We encourage organic producers to participate in this program and hope that it will help them recoup some of the expenses associated with becoming a USDA certified organic operation,” Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan said.
The ADAI will administer this noncompetitive grant program by processing applications for cost share funds, and USDA will reimburse them. USDA distributes funds on a first-come, first-served basis until funds are exhausted. Organic operators typically submit a one-page application form, a W-9 Tax Form, proof of certification, an itemized invoice of certification expenses, and proof of E-Verify to ADAI. The ADAI reviews the application and then may reimburse the operator for 75 percent of the cost of certification, up to a maximum of $750 dollars per category of certification per year.
All farmers, ranchers, and handlers who have received organic certification or a renewal of certification from an accredited certifying agent between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015 are eligible to participate. Farms transitioning to organic production are not eligible. Most certification-related costs are eligible for reimbursement. Organic producers and handlers may be reimbursed for expenses paid for first-time organic certifications, as well as renewals of certification.
Eligible costs include the following: application fees, inspection costs, travel /per diem for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments, and postage. Ineligible costs include the following: equipment, materials, supplies, late fees, and inspections for transitional certifications or due to violations of NOP regulations. The OCCSP reduce the cost of organic certification in accordance with the Agricultural Marketing Service aim to strengthen market support for U.S. agriculture.
Applications will be accepted through September 30, 2015. Application forms and additional details can be obtained by calling Hassey Brooks with the ADAI at 334/240-3877 or by emailing at Hassey.Brooks@agi.alabama.gov. If you are seeking organic certification, you can find information on the process for certification at www.ams.usda.gov/.