The U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping foot organic producers' certification bills with an additional $1 million this year, announced Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns. The funds—separate from the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program—will be allocated to 15 states with historically low participation rates in crop insurance programs, in proportion to the number of organic producers in each state. States will then reimburse eligible producers for up to 75 percent of their certification costs, up to $500.
"This is nothing but positive," said Joe Smillie, senior vice president of San Diego-based organic certifier Quality Assurance International. "It's a great way to support farmers and small processors, because often certification is too expensive for them, and I hope this bodes well for the more important issue: the 2007 Farm Bill."
To be eligible for reimbursement, organic production operations must be located in one of the designated states, meet the USDA organic standards and receive certification or update of certification by a USDA-accredited certifier between Oct. 1, 2007 and Sept. 30, 2008. States eligible for the extra funds are: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 10/p. 12