Organic Certification FAQs

These are three of the most common questions we hear from farmers about Organic Certification.

 

1. Worried that certification will be too complicated to navigate?
CFSA offers FREE consulting to farmers seeking USDA Organic Certification. This is open to farm operations that are serious about taking the next steps to apply whether you raise row crops, produce, livestock, medicinal herbs or other agricultural products.

 

Just starting or in the middle of your three-year transition to organic?  Check out our conservation planning work and consulting opportunities.  The resulting CAP plan can inform your Organic Farm Plan for Certification.

 

Not ready to commit just yet? 
Take the first step by asking questions now!  Our Farm Services team is a valuable resource in this process. Feel free to touch base with us with specific questions regarding your efforts to transition part or all of your farming operation to organic.  Email us at mark@ or 919-542-2402.

 

2. Not sure if certification is in your farm’s budget?
The Organic Certification Cost Share Program has been reinstated with the passing of the farm bill, effectively lowering the cost of certification.

 

Producers can be reimbursed for 75% of the costs associated with USDA Organic Certification up to $750 with submission of the appropriate documentation to your state’s Department of Agriculture. Remember that this is a reimbursement-based program, so you must first successfully become certified to qualify. To receive reimbursement, you need to submit an application, a current W-9 form, copies of all receipts showing costs incurred from certification, and your organic certificate from a USDA accredited certifying agency.

 

3. So, with cost share assistance, what would it REALLY cost for a first-time applicant for USDA Organic Certification?
 

Three example scenarios to give you an idea…

 

1) To certify 10 acres or less for one year in SC with Clemson’s Organic Certification Program (Currently, all certified organic farmers in SC use Clemson.)

New applicant flat fee: $750

After reimbursement, the farmer’s cost is only $187.50.

 

2) To certify a larger, more complex operation, the cost of initial certification may be more than $1000. Let’s say your certification cost is $1200. The cost share program covers up to $750 of this cost, so after reimbursement, the farmer’s cost is $450.

 

3) If you gross less than $5k annually from the sale of crops, but decide to get certified despite the $5K/yr exemption (for example, your products are bulked with other organic products), and you are in SC, Clemson will certify your operation at a flat rate of $200/yr. After reimbursement, the farmer’s cost is only $50.

 

Take a look at Clemson’s Organic Certification Program fee schedule.  All necessary forms and information for their program can be found at: http://www.clemson.edu/organic

 

NC farmers have options in choosing a certifier.  We’ve done the research for you!  You can easily compare certifier fee structures using this updated reference sheet in our Organic Transition Handbook.

 

Expert Tip: Check out our map to see which certifiers farms near you use.  If you decide that using the same certifier is best for your operation, you may be able to coordinate your inspections to share the cost of inspector travel expenses.
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