Cost Share & Funding Resources

USDA National Organic Certification Cost Share Program

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) has provided funds for certified organic operations to assist with the costs of organic certification. With the passage of the Farm Bill, the Cost Share program is now available in all 50 states!

Organic operators can be reimbursed as much as 75 percent of their certification costs from October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014, up to a maximum of $750.

Organic operations may receive one reimbursement per scope of certification per year. This means that clients that are certified of crops and livestock may be eligible for more than one reimbursement.

To ensure that your application is considered, and to improve your chance of receiving funds, it is important to submit complete and correct information and documentation. As a member service, PCO is providing a link below to the PDA’s Cost Share Application. Please follow the steps below carefully.

To read the full Policies and Procedures of the National Organic Program (NOP) for cost share, click here.

 

How to get organic certification Cost Share funds in Pennsylvania:

(For other states see below)

  1. Complete and sign a PDA Federal Organic Certification Cost Share Application for certification year October 1, 2013 – September 30, 2014. Note: The PDA must receive an original signed application – do not photocopy or fax.
  2. Collect the following documentation: copies of all associated organic certification and inspection expense receipts. If you do not have copies of this documentation, PCO can assist you – read the tips below about requests for verification of PCO certification costs.
  3. Think about when will be the best time for you to submit your application to maximize the amount of money you can receive. The maximum reimbursement is $750 (or up to 75%) of certification costs per certification scope, including application fees, certification fees, AND inspection costs. Only one application for Cost Share per year will be accepted per operation. Always keep in mind the application postmark deadline of November 14, 2014.
  4. Send your completed, signed application to PDA (as a reminder, PCO will submit proof of fees paid for certification on behalf of all clients certified in Pennsylvania directly to the PDA for you).  Mail to: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Attn: Kyle Heffner 2301 North Cameron Street Harrisburg, PA 17110. DO NOT SEND APPLICATIONS TO PCO.

For assistance, contact Kyle Heffer (Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture) 717-836-3973

 

Tips To Securing Reimbursement:

  • If you need PCO to provide verification of your fees and/or certification status, please contact the PCO office. Note: As a benefit to certified clients, PCO submits proof of payments for all certified clients in Pennsylvania directly to the PDA. However, you can request copies from PCO to include in your application if you like.
  • Cost Share applications are approved on a “first received and complete, first to get approved” basis, so we recommend applying as soon as you have the necessary information.
  • Use the bullets below as a checklist to avoid common mistakes that may cause your application to be returned and you to lose your place in line. Ensure that:
    • You fully complete and sign an original application form – not a photocopy or fax.
    • You include ALL necessary paperwork:  i) your completed and signed application;  ii) copies of paid receipts for all certification and inspection fees (remember, including paid receipts is optional as PCO will forward that information to PDA for you)
      • You do NOT need to send a copy of your certificate with your application
    • You send all the above to PDA, marked to the attention of Kyle Heffner at the address above.
    • Postmark deadline for receipt of applications is November 14, 2014.

Hint:
Next year’s Cost Share Program period will run from 10/1/14 through 9/30/15. If you are scheduled to have an inspection that occurs after the cut-off date of 9/30/15, you can request to pre-pay an “estimate” of your anticipated inspection fees prior to 9/30/15 so that fee will be eligible to qualify for reimbursement as well. The “estimate” will be based on your previous year’s inspection costs. If you are a new operator, that figure would be based on the type of operation you have. Otherwise, those fees will fall into the next year’s Cost Share Program period and will have to wait for qualification.

How to Get Organic Certification Cost Share Funds in Other States:
For information on how to apply for Certification Cost Share funds in other states, please view the contact list of National Organic Program (NOP) Certification Cost Share Program Participants and ask your state’s contact about application procedures and deadline.

To find contact information for your state, visit: www.ams.usda.gov/NOPCostShareProgramParticipants

 

USDA Agriculture Marketing Service Grant Programs

Specialty Crop Block Grant ProgramThis program provides grants to individual state departments of agriculture to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops (defined as: fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and nursery crops (including floriculture)). The state departments of agriculture then distribute their grant funds to individual producers of specialty crops in their state.

Direct Farm Sales Grant ProgramThis program provides funds to businesses that manage or operate a farm stand or farmers’ market, non-profit organizations, farmers and local governments for projects intended to promote new or existing farmers’ markets. The maximum grant award per farm stand or farmers’ market location shall be $7,500. Grant awardees will be expected to provide 25% in matching funds or in-kind goods or services.

Contact your State Department of Agriculture for information on these or other programs available in your state.

 

Natural Resource Conservation Service Programs

EQIP Organic Initiative Program – The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) works with landowners through conservation planning and assistance designed to benefit the soil, water, air, plants and animals that result in productive lands and healthy ecosystems. Funds are available for those transitioning to organic and currently certified organic producers through EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Program). For further information and to apply, visit: www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/organic.

Visit www.nrcs/usda/gov/programs for information on additional funding programs that may apply to your operation, including:

  • Farm & Ranch Lands Protection Program
  • Grassland Reserve Program
  • Health Forests Reserve Program
  • Agricultural Management Assistance Program