Thanks to Betsy Rakola; Grants Management Specialist, USDA-AMS National Organic Program for putting together this information for us.
The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) administers a cost-share program to help certified organic farmers, ranchers, processors, and handlers pay for the cost of certification. If you have a current USDA organic certification, then you may be reimbursed for up to 75% of your costs for certification, such as inspection fees, application fees, and gross sales assessments/user fees. The annual maximum is $750 per certification. This is a great opportunity for organic operators to offset the cost of certification.
This program is not competitive, and money is available in all participating states. Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis until the money runs out. During the last two years, less than half of all certified producers and handlers applied to participate. If your operation is certified as USDA organic, then you may take advantage of this easy way to reduce your certification expenses.
How To Apply
1. Contact your state’s Department of Agriculture (or its equivalent) for an application.
Contact names for each state are available online at www.ams.usda.gov/NOPCostShareProgramParticipants. Some states have application forms available for download, and these links are also available on the USDA website. If you don’t have access to the internet, then you can either call your certifier or your state Department of Agriculture to get an application. Note: At the time of writing, all states except Utah offered a cost share program.
2. Assemble your supporting documentation. You will need to show proof of your certification and the expenses you have already paid. Save your invoices, statements, and receipts – they may be required as proof of payment. The following documents are typically requested by State departments of agriculture, but make sure to review your state’s requirements carefully – it is your responsibility to ensure that your application is complete.
- Proof of USDA organic certification (a copy of your certificate)
- Itemized invoice showing expenses paid for certification
- W-9 tax form
Most certification-related expenses are eligible for reimbursement. However, keep in mind that items such as late fees, inspections due to noncompliance, and inspections for certifications other than USDA Organic (such as JAS or Bird Friendly) are not eligible for reimbursement under this program. You may receive one reimbursement per year for a new certification or a renewal of certification, provided that the annual maximum reimbursement does not exceed $750 per certificate.
Still have questions? Contact Betsy Rakola, the USDA National Organic Program’s cost share manager at 202-720-3252 or Betsy.Rakola@ams.usda.gov. Or, visit the cost share webpage at www.ams.usda.gov/NOPCostSharing.