The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced it is again pitching in with financial support for organic producer and handler certifications.
Applying not just to hemp, the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP) will help offset the costs of obtaining or maintaining organic certification under the USDA’s National Organic Program.
“USDA is here to help all producers, including those who grow our nation’s organic food and fiber,” said USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “Many farmers have told us that cost was a barrier to their ability to get an organic certification.”
The program will reimburse 50% of a certified operation’s allowable certification costs, up to a maximum of $500 in the following categories, and for each category.
- wild crops
- State organic program fees
The nation’s hemp farmers were previously blocked from this sort of assistance until the 2018 Farm Bill recognised hemp as a legal agricultural crop.
Applications for the Organic Certification Cost Share Program close Nov. 1, 2021 and more information can be found here.
While the USDA authorized organic certification for hemp cultivation following the 2014 Farm Bill, it wasn’t until the bill of 2018 that interest from producers picked up. Aside from uptake in the food and fibre sectors, CBD manufacturers have also jumped on board as consumers becoming increasingly concerned about product quality and provenance.
There are quite a few hurdles for
For hemp produced in the USA, only crops produced in accordance with the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program and/or the 2014 Farm Bill may be certified as organic, if produced in accordance with USDA organic regulations.
The USDA mentions that as well as the OCCSP, the funding will be complemented by an additional $20 million for organic and transitioning producers through the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative, but further detail is yet to be released. Other pandemic related assistance, some of which may apply to hemp producers, can be found here.
Other USDA programs hemp producers in general (i.e. not just organic) may be eligible for include:
- Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP)
- Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP)
- NRCS-administered conservation programs
- Farm loans, including operating, ownership, beginning farmer, and farm storage facility
More information here