Organic Certification Cost-Share Assistance Now Available
By Sonia Isotov
The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) is currently accepting applications for a new round of organic certification cost-share assistance to organic farmers, organic livestock operators and organic produce handlers.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the HDOA have executed two separate cooperative agreements renewing federal funding totaling up to $95,000 to help Hawai`i agribusinesses with the cost of organic certification.
Organic farmers and livestock operators are required to have their farms and practices inspected annually and certified by an agent approved by the USDA. 75% of the cost of this inspection and certification (up to a maximum of $750) is eligible for reimbursement under the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (AMAOCCSP) which was authorized under the Federal Crop Insurance Act.
This is the fourth consecutive year that Hawai`i has participated in this program. Once again, Hawai`i has been allotted $75,000 for the funding period October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012.
In addition, the USDA has a separate program to assist companies certified as organic processors/handlers. As with the growers, processors/handlers are required to be inspected and re-certified annually. Under the USDA National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (NOCCSP), funding of $20,000 has been allotted to Hawai`i to reimburse 75% of the cost of this certification (up to a maximum of $750).
“This cost-sharing program provides a good incentive for organic farmers to become certified,” said Russell S. Kokubun, chairperson of the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture, in a written statement Friday. “As the organic industry grows, so does the need for certified processors and handlers, who are also included in this program.”
The HDOA has been participating in the USDA NOCCSP since 2004 to assist and encourage the growth of organic farming in the state. The initial program allotted $40,000 to reimburse both growers/producers and processors/handlers over a four-year period. In recognition of the growth and importance of organic farming in Hawai`i and across the nation, the USDA increased the total funding and separated the certification categories into two programs in 2008.
To receive reimbursement, the date of certification or renewal by a USDA accredited certifying agent must occur between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012. Applications and information are available online at the HDOA website: http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/add/md/OrganicProducers.
For assistance with the application process, contact: HDOA – Agricultural Development Division, Market Development Branch, at (808) 973-9595 or [email protected].