WASHINGTON—Organic sugarmakers can now apply for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds to cover the cost of receiving or maintaining organic certification.
Applications for the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP) are due Nov. 1.
Producers can be reimbursed for expenses made between Oct. 1, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2021 including application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement and arrangement requirements, travel expenses for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage.
Meanwhile, it’s not too late to get certified organic for the upcoming season, say industry officials.
“Maple is one of the easiest crops to certify,” said Donald Franczyk, executive director of Baystate Organic Certifiers, a USDA accredited certifying agency providing organic certification to farm and processing operations throughout the U.S.
“We’re set up to take maple applications up through the sap run,” Franczyk said.
He said the process from application to certification can take as little as four to six weeks, allowing sugarmakers to jump on the organic trend and take advantage of better pricing.
The USDA's new OCCSP program provides cost-share assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products for the costs of obtaining or maintaining organic certification under the USDA’s National Organic Program.
Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers who have paid organic certification fees to a USDA-accredited certifying agent during the 2021 and any subsequent program year.
Organic producers may apply through an FSA county office or a participating state agency.