U.S.D.A. to provide funds to help defray organic costs

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it will provide $1 million to help defray the costs of annual organic certification costs for producers in 15 states. According to the U.S.D.A., the money primarily is geared toward smaller producers so they will be able to meet the voluntary uniform standards set forth by the National Organic Program regulations for the production of organic products that are to be labeled as "100% organic," "organic" or "made with organic ingredients."

As part of the U.S.D.A. effort, funding will be made available to Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

"Without this assistance, many farmers wouldn’t be able to cover the costs of organic certification because the process is lengthy and costly," said Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns. "In the 2007 farm bill proposal, the administration recommends that this program be re-authorized and expanded to include all 50 states and permit producers and handlers to be eligible as well as increase the cost share reimbursement, which will help small organic farmers meet these costs."

The U.S.D.A. said funds will be allocated to the states in proportion to the number of organic producers in each state. The states, in turn, will reimburse each eligible producer for up to 75% of its organic certification costs, not to exceed $500. Each state is allowed to retain 4% of the total amount granted as an administration fee.

In order to be eligible for reimbursement, an organic production operation must be located within one of the 15 designated states, meet the U.S.D.A. national organic standards for organic production, and have received certification or update of certification by a U.S.D.A.-accredited certifying agent between Oct. 1, 2007, and Sept. 30, 2008.

This program is in addition to and separate from the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, which also is administered by U.S.D.A.’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

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