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SPRINGFIELD -- USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that organic producers and handlers can apply for federal funds to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic certification through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP).

Applications for fiscal 2019 funding are due Oct. 31.

“Producers can visit their local FSA county offices to apply for up to 75 percent of the cost of organic certification,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “This also gives organic producers an opportunity to learn about other valuable USDA resources, like farm loans and conservation assistance, that can help them succeed. Organic producers can take advantage of a variety of USDA programs from help with field buffers to routine operating expenses to storage and handling equipment.”

OCCSP received continued support through the 2018 Farm Bill. It provides cost-share assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products for the costs of obtaining or maintaining organic certification under the USDA’s National Organic Program. Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers who have paid organic certification fees to a USDA-accredited certifying agent. Eligible expenses for cost-share reimbursement include application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement and arrangement requirements, travel expenses for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage.

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Certified producers and handlers are eligible to receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of certification costs each year, up to a maximum of $750 per certification scope, including crops, livestock, wild crops, handling and state organic program fees.

The announcement also includes the opportunity for state agencies to apply for grant agreements to administer the OCCSP program in fiscal 2019. State agencies that establish agreements for fiscal year 2019 may be able to extend their agreements and receive additional funds to administer the program in future years.

FSA will accept applications from state agencies for fiscal year 2019 funding for cost-share assistance through May 29.

To learn more about organic certification cost share, visit the OCCSP webpage, view the notice of funds availability on the Federal Register, or contact your FSA county office. To learn more about USDA support for organic agriculture, visit usda.gov/organic.

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