USDA reimburses organic producers up to 75 percent of the cost
of organic certification, but only about half of the nation’s
organic operations currently participate in the program.
Starting March 20, USDA will provide a uniform, streamlined
process for organic producers and handlers to apply for organic
cost share assistance either by mail or in person.
USDA is making changes to increase participation in the National
Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the
Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost
Share Program, and at the same time provide more opportunities
for organic producers to access other USDA programs, such as
disaster protection and loans for farms, facilities and
marketing. Producers can also access information on nonfederal
agricultural resources, and get referrals to local experts,
including organic agriculture, through USDA’s Bridges to
Opportunity service at the local FSA office.
Historically, many state departments of agriculture have
obtained grants to disburse reimbursements to those producers
and handlers qualifying for cost share assistance. FSA will
continue to partner with states to administer the programs. For
states that want to continue to directly administer the
programs, applications will be due Feb. 17, 2017.
Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers
who have paid organic or transitional certification fees to a
USDA-accredited certifying agent. Application fees, inspection
costs, fees related to equivalency agreement/ arrangement
requirements, travel/per diem for inspectors, user fees, sales
assessments and postage are all eligible for a cost share
reimbursement from USDA.
Once 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—crops,
livestock, wild crops and handling. Today’s announcement also
adds transitional certification and state organic program fees
as additional scopes.
To learn more about organic certification cost share, please
visit www.fsa.usda.gov/organic or contact a local FSA office by
USDA Announces Conservation Reserve Program Investments in
Up to 15,000 acres can be enrolled in the Conservation Reserve
Program (CRP) in Illinois for critical wildlife and water
Over the past 30 years, CRP has helped farmers to offset the
costs of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses,
shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil
erosion and strengthen wildlife habitat. Given the national cap
of 24 million acres, it is more important than ever to pursue
multiple benefits on each acre of CRP such that many acres are
providing erosion prevention, water conservation, recreation for
sportsman, habitat for pollinators, and protection of grazing
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Nationwide, farmers and ranchers now can enroll up to 1.1 million acres to
restore high-priority wildlife habitat through the CRP State Acres for Wildlife
Enhancement (SAFE) program, wetlands restoration, or pollinator habitat
improvements. In Illinois, up to 15,000 acres are now available to enroll in the
existing, Illinois Grassland-Wetland Habitat Restoration SAFE Project that, in
addition to soil erosion prevention and water quality improvements, this project
is protecting populations of grassland bird species including those listed as
endangered or threatened.
USDA recently accepted more than 504,000 acres into the CRP Grasslands program,
bringing the total to more than 600,000 acres. In Illinois, FSA accepted 247.4
acres in the program, providing participants with financial assistance for
establishing approved grasses, trees and shrubs on pasture and rangeland that
can continue to be grazed.
Seventy-percent of the nation’s land is owned and tended to privately, and
America’s farmers, ranchers and landowners have willingly stepped up to address
the growing impacts of a changing climate. With USDA’s support, they work to
implement voluntary practices that improve air and water quality, prevent soil
erosion and create and protect wildlife habitat.
Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make
conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and
landowners to protect land and water on over 400 million acres nationwide.
Please contact your local County FSA Office with any questions you may have
regarding this message.
[USDA Farm Service Agency]