Organic Certification Cost-Share at Risk

Organic Certification Cost-Share at Risk

The organic certification cost-share program helps organic farms stay in business and is especially important for small and mid-size farms. We need to support local, organic farms and our regional economies. Without adequate support, we will become increasingly reliant on imports for organic food.

Call your Senators and Your Representative TODAY to urge support for organic certification cost-share!

Call the Capitol Switchboard:

*Enter your zip code to connect with your Senators and your Representative’s office.

Find your Members of Congress here.

Ask to Speak with the staffer who works on agriculture. Use your own words, along with these talking points:

  • I’m calling as a constituent. I want to thank the Senator XX/Congressman XX for his/her leadership to grow and protect organic agriculture in XX state and nationwide. (If you are a farmer, make sure to talk about your farming operation.)
  • I am calling to urge Senator XX/Congressman XX to voice strong support for organic certification cost-share in the next Farm Bill.
  • Congress should reauthorize, with adequate funding, organic certification cost share because this program helps organic farmers stay in business and keep jobs here in our local economy.
  • When I purchase organic food, I want to help support local farms and businesses. I want to support the beneficial conservation practices that certified organic farms follow.
  • I know that earning a livelihood from organic farming is not easy. One of the challenges and added costs is going through the annual certification process.
  • Rather than relying on imports, certified organic farmers in our communities should be supported so they can meet the demand for organic in the marketplace.
  • The modest certification cost share assistance provided to farms partially offsets annual certification fees and helps support farms that are using good conservation practices and providing healthy food for local communities.

Background Information:

What is Organic Certification Cost-Share?
Organic farmers must go through rigorous annual organic certification process and pay fees each year. Two federal programs, the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program and the Agricultural Management Assistance Act (AMA), provide organic farmers with modest reimbursement of up to $750 to cover a portion of their annual certification fees.

Why is Organic Certification Cost-Share Important?
The growing costs of annual organic certification can be prohibitive for some organic operations, especially those of small to medium scale. Yet third-party organic certification is critical to maintaining consistency in the application of organic standards, meeting consumer expectations, and ensuring the integrity of the trusted USDA certified organic brand. The modest certification cost share assistance provided to partially offset these costs has been instrumental in the decision by many farmers and handlers to seek initial organic certification and to remain certified as organic – in spite of the annual costs of doing so. This has helped to foster diversity in the scale of operations certified as organic, and also helps to maintain jobs here in the U.S.

Organic agriculture is a bright spot in our economy. These are jobs that can and should be created here at home. U.S. organic production is lagging demand for organic products. One of the barriers to getting farmers to transition is the concern about the annual costs of organic certification. Rather than relying on imports, certified organic farmers in our communities should be supported in their efforts to meet that demand.

What are the two programs that provide organic certification cost-share reimbursements?

  • The Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA), enacted as part of the Federal Crop Insurance Act, provides certification cost share assistance for organic farmers (but not handlers) in 16 states. The AMA program also provides risk management and conservation grants to producers in those states as well.
  • The National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP), enacted as Section 10606 of the 2002 Farm Bill and reauthorized through the 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills, provides organic certification cost share for organic farmers in states not covered by the above-mentioned AMA program, and for organic handlers in all States. The program has operated through State Departments of Agriculture and is now also available through the Farm Services Agency (FSA).