Illinois organic farmers can seek federal aid for USDA certification costs
Organic producers and handlers still can seek federal funds for obtaining or renewing their USDA certification, the Illinois Department of Agriculture said recently.
The department secured $202,000 from the USDA's National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program for applicants over a three-year period, of which $74,000 was used in 2015, the program's first year. The deadline for the current fiscal year is Sept. 30.
USDA certification recognizes four categories – crops, wild crops, livestock, and processing and handling. Federal reimbursement can cover 75 percent of the certification fees, up to $750.
"Farming is an expensive occupation," Agriculture Department Director Raymond Poe said. "From buying land and equipment to securing the proper license and certification, the soaring costs associated with production agriculture have had a big impact on our farms. I applaud and appreciate this effort by the USDA to help Illinois farmers."
Funds are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Those applying in Illinois can receive funding even if they were reimbursed in previous years, as each year is independent of prior ones.