Green money: Wall Street may be crumbling, but if you need help paying your organic-certification costs, the feds can help. Local growers have complained for years that getting certified is expensive and complicated. Until recently, growers in 15 states could get up to $500 toward paying their certification costs.
North Carolina wasn’t one of those states—but it is now.
Thanks to the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, growers in all states can get as much as $750 via the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that $22 million in federal funds are available for organic-certification cost assistance, available to producers and handlers of organic agricultural products in any state in the country, as well as its territories, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
To be eligible, an organic production or handling operation must be located within a qualified state, comply with the USDA National Organic Program regulations for organic production or handling and have received certification or continuation of certification by a USDA-accredited certifying agent.
Applications by states for federal assistance and cooperative agreements must be requested from and submitted to Robert Pooler, Agricultural Marketing Specialist, National Organic Program, USDA Stop 0268, Room 4008-S, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20250-0264.
For more information, call (202) 720-3252 or visit www.ams.usda.gov/nop. Also check out www.NationalOrganicCoalition.org and www.carolinafarmstewards.org.