Delaware organic producers to receive cost-share assistance

Under a cooperative agreement between the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) and the Agriculture Marketing Service-United States Department of Agriculture (AMS/USDA), eligible Delaware organic crop and livestock producers can now apply for cost-share assistance for their certification costs.

The Organic Certification Cost Share Program will provide cost share reimbursement to organic crop and livestock producers who are certified by a USDA accredited certifying agent. The payments will reimburse up to 75 percent of an individual producer’s certification costs, up to a maximum of $750.

DDA officials noted that organic products are among the fastest growing segments of the food industry. As consumer demand for organic food continues to increase, grocery and specialty stores are stepping up their marketing efforts to promote organic products. Many Delaware farmers who want to become USDA organic certified, they said, are unable to cover the costs of the organic certification because the process is expensive. In addition, once a farmer becomes USDA certified organic, the annual renewal fees to keep the certification are costly as well.

The Organic Certification Cost Share Program benefits the Delaware producers who are already USDA organic certified with their annual certification fees, and encourages Delaware farmers who want to become USDA certified with their initial certification costs, officials said.

In the meantime, the Delaware Organic Food and Farming Association (DOFFA), in partnership with the University of Delaware and Delaware State University Cooperative Extension have scheduled two workshops and question and answer sessions on getting started in organic farming. Both sessions are for anyone interested in transitioning to the organic market. University Extension Agents, a Delaware-based inspector who works with USDA accredited Organic Certifiers, local USDA Certified organic producers, DDA personnel and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service representatives will be available to answer questions.

The workshops are scheduled for: Thursday, Nov. 20, 6 p.m., at the University of Delaware Carvel Research & Education Center, 16483 County Seat Highway, Georgetown (to register in advance, call (302) 730-4000); and Saturday, Jan. 10, 9 a.m., at the University of Delaware Paradee Center, 69 Transportation Circle, Dover (to register in advance, call (302) 730-4000).

To obtain an Organic Certification Cost-Share Assistance application, contact Jo-Ann Walston at the DDA at (302) 698-4523.