Cost share funds for organic certification available

Question: What’s more exciting than puppies, Kim Kardashian or The Voice? Answer: Dollars to offset fees associated with organic certification for Michigan growers.

If you are a certified organic farmer or interested in going through the certification process, good news is in store! The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced that nearly $12 million in funding is available to offset costs associated with organic certification. Funding is available from two different programs: the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program and the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost Share Program. Growers and handlers in Michigan are eligible for the former of these two programs.

If you are a grower who paid for or will pay for certification October 1, 2014 – September 30, 2015, you are eligible for up to 75 percent of your certification costs, with a maximum of $750. Michigan State University Extension recommends that certified organic growers interested in taking advantage of this opportunity should visit the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development or the USDA AMS National Organic Program Website.

If you are interested in becoming a certified organic grower or handler, you should contact a certifying organization. Because there are no certifying organizations in Michigan, you will need to contact one from out of state.  Examples of certifying agencies include: Midwest Organic Services Association, In. (MOSA), Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Global Organic Alliance, International Certification Services, Inc., Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and more. For a complete list of certifying agencies and a list of certified farms operating near you please visit the USDA NOP website.

For more information on organic production in Michigan, please visit the Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance (MOFFA), which also has an informative publication that documents the transition that five Michigan farmers made to organic production. eOrganic, the organic agriculture community of practice within eXtension, also has a variety of resources available for those interested in organic production.

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