Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced additional steps being taken to strengthen the market for domestically grown organic goods, and to support producers seeking organic certification. These funding opportunities are part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Organic Transition Initiative. The initiative is a suite of offerings to help existing organic producers and those transitioning to organic production and processing.
“We recognize the important role the organic industry can play in expanding opportunities for value-added agriculture, strengthening supply chains and generating revenue for farmers,” Vilsack said. “For many farmers, the transition period before attaining organic certification can be cost-prohibitive, so USDA is also helping mitigate the risk involved for farmers who want to be able to grow and market organic crops.”
Through the new Organic Market Development Grant (OMDG) Program, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will issue up to $75 million in competitive grants. OMDG is intended to increase the consumption of domestic agricultural commodities by aiding in the expansion of markets or development of new markets, marketing facilities and uses for such commodities.
Through OMDG, AMS encourages applications that serve smaller farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, underserved producers, veteran producers and underserved communities. AMS is accepting applications for the program now through July 11.
As part of USDA’s broader effort to support organic producers and in response to stakeholder feedback, this year the Farm Service Agency increased the cost share amount under the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP). The program helps organic producers cover organic certification costs to the maximum amount allowed by statute.
OCCSP applications are due Oct. 31. To apply, producers and handlers should contact the FSA at their local USDA Service Center. Organic producers and handlers may also apply for OCCSP through participating state departments of agriculture. Additional details can be found on the OCCSP webpage.