Organic Certification Cost Share Program at Risk in 2018 Farm Bill


What is Organic Certification Cost-Share?

USDA Certified Organic farmers and handlers must go through a rigorous third-party certification process each year. Two federal programs, the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the Agricultural Management Assistance Act (AMA) provide organic farmers with modest reimbursement of up to $750 to cover a portion of their annual certification fees.

At this time, only the NOCCSP is available to certified operations in North and South Carolina.

The NOCCSP, which was enacted as Section 10606 of the 2002 Farm Bill and reauthorized through the 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills, provides organic certification cost share for organic farmers in states not covered by the above-mentioned AMA program and for organic handlers in all states. The NOCCSP has operated through State Departments of Agriculture and is also available through the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

Why is Organic Certification Cost-Share Important?

If you’re an organic farmer—you already know. This is money in your pocket that you need to use for equipment repairs, new tools, and on-farm innovation instead of certification fees.

If you’re an eater and advocate of organic food—third-party organic certification is critical to maintaining consistency in the application of organic standards, meeting consumer expectations, and ensuring the integrity of the trusted USDA Organic brand. However, the growing costs of annual certification can be prohibitive for some organic operations, especially those of small to medium scale. The NOCCSP helps to partially offset these costs, and as such it has been instrumental in the decisions of many farmers to both initially seek organic certification and to remain certified as organic. This has helped to keep many small and medium-sized farms in business—farms that many of us depend on for healthy, sustainably-grown food.

The Current Situation

Will the NOCCSP Be Reauthorized in the 2018 Farm Bill?

We hope so, and CFSA is working hard to make sure this happens. But now that Congress has begun the process of drafting the 2018 Farm Bill, our friends at the National Organic Coalition in Washington, DC have learned that the NOCCSP is at serious risk of being eliminated.

Take Action

What can you do to help? 

Call your Representative and Senators TODAY to voice your support for organic certification cost share!

(1) If you don’t know which member of Congress represents you, find out here.

(2) Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

(3) Press “2” to reach the House of Representatives or “1” to reach the Senate.

(4) Enter your zip code to be directed to your Representative or Senator’s office. 

(5) Ask to speak to the agriculture staffer. Here are some possible talking points:

  • I’m calling as a constituent and [an organic farmer] / [a supporter of organic agriculture].
  • I am calling to urge Representative/Senator ______ to voice strong support for organic certification cost-share in the next Farm Bill.
  • This program helps Organic [farmers like me] / [farmers I depend on] stay in business and keep jobs here in our local economy.
  • My farm depends on cost share certification because_____________.
  • I depend on farms that produce organic food in my community because____________.
  • Please support the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program in the Farm Bill! 

It’ll only take 5 minutes and it can make a difference!
Once you’ve made the call or sent you email, let us know by clicking the button. This helps us track which issues matter to our members.

Related Articles