January 05, 2012

Assistance Available to Missouri Farmers Seeking Organic Certification

Program expanded as participation has more than tripled

The Missouri Department of Agriculture has funding available to assist Missouri farmers and food processors working to obtain or renew their business' organic certification. Through the USDA Organic Certification Cost Share Program, producers who complete the process in 2012, as well as those who received certification in 2011, may be reimbursed for up to 75 percent of their certification expenses.

"The Organic Certification Cost Share Program is one of the many outstanding tools the Department of Agriculture makes available to our producers as we move Missouri agriculture forward," said Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler. "The number of participants in this program has more than tripled as our state's farmers and processors find opportunities to build their businesses through organic certification."

Through its Ag Business Development Division, the Department has participated in the Organic Certification Cost Share Program since the USDA launched the program three years ago. Since that launch, the number of Missouri businesses certified through the USDA National Organic Program has grown to include over 200 producers and processors.

As a result of that growth, Missouri received a 40 percent increase in available funding for the 2012 program from the USDA. The funds will be used to reimburse producers and processors for 75 percent of their certification costs, up to $750 for each type of certification.

To participate in the program, businesses must obtain or renew their organic certification, complete an application and document their certification costs between Oct. 1, 2010 and Sept. 30, 2011 for the 2011 award year, or between Oct. 1, 2011 and Sept. 30 of this year for the 2012 program. Applications for the cost share funds are available online and must be submitted to the Department no later than Sept. 30, 2012. Producers will be reimbursed in the order their applications are received until funds are exhausted or the eligibility period ends, whichever comes first.

To find certified organic producers in Missouri and their products, visit AgriMisouri.com. To learn more about the organic cost-share program or the Missouri Department of Agriculture, visit mda.mo.gov.