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2014 Organic Cost Share Payouts
2014 Organic Cost Share Payouts
by Elena Byrne
Organic Processing Institute

The Organic Certification Cost Share Program is part of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill).  The program is intended to assist organic producers and handlers by offsetting costs associated with organic certification.

Two separate programs actually exist, with a few key differences between them. The Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) Organic Certification Cost Share Program applies to 16 states and is only available for production (crops or livestock), not for processing/manufacturing operations. It is funded separately from the Farm Bill, so it was intact for the 2013 financial year.

The National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) was not in place for the 2013 financial year, but was made available again for FY 2014 with the passage of the Farm Bill in early 2014. As USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack stated, “Consumer demand for organic products is surging across the country.  To meet this demand, we need to make sure that small farmers who choose to grow organic products can afford to get certified.”

For the FY 2014 cost share program, eligible costs were those paid during the period from October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014. Organic operations can receive up to 75 percent of their certification costs paid during that period, not to exceed $750 per certification scope.  There are four certification scopes:  crops, wild crops, livestock and processing/handling, so operations that hold a certificate for more than one scope are eligible to receive more than the $750 maximum.

Each state receives funding allocations and administers its own reimbursement program. The following table shows organic cost share disbursements for Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin and also provides a breakdown of the number of recipients receiving reimbursements for a handling certificate.

2014 Organic Cost Share Disbursements for Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin

The program provides $11.5 million dollars of assistance per fiscal year 2014 through 2018. Unused funds may be rolled into the next fiscal year. Watch for this opportunity for your 2015 certification costs. State departments of agriculture typically begin announcing application materials and dates by August, though many operations choose to hold their applications until they have incurred all relevant fees up to the end of the period on Sept. 30. Questions about the program or application process can be directed to either your organic certifier or your state department of agriculture.

For reference, the following table shows a ranking of the top 10 states’ organic cost share payments for federal FY 2012, as well as the number of operations receiving those reimbursements.

Top 10 States for Cost Share Payments - FY 2012

Watch for more information on national rankings for the 2014 fiscal year cost share payments. A report from the NOP is expected to be available sometime this March.

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