Organic Cost Share Reimbursement
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Fax: (770) 228-7219
People throughout the U.S. are interested in organic or "naturally produced" foods. However, although similar in principle, growing crops or producing milk, beef or chicken naturally or without use of pesticides, hormones or antibiotics is very different from “organic” farm production. Legally, there are steps that growers, livestock producers, food processors (including handlers or distributors) must follow before the word “organic” can appear on the label.
There are many websites with information on starting an organic farm and selling organic items. You can read our Organic Fact Sheet as well as finding several good fact sheets on the USDA's National Organic Program website.
In summary, organic fruits, vegetables, milk, meat products, etc. must be produced and handled according to the National Organic Program (NOP) regulations and standards. All producers selling more than $5,000 of organic products in a calendar year must have their operation inspected and certified by a USDA approved state or private certifying agency. This certification gives confidence to the consumer that all products labeled “organic” have been produced under the same standards. Currently in Georgia, only private certifying agents perform this service. Click here to view Certifying Agents.
Producers that sell less than $5,000 worth of organic products a year are exempt from the organic certification requirements (termed “exempt grower/producers”) but still must comply with the NOP regulations. Organic products from exempt growers/producers may not be used in processed food products label as organic but may be sold at farmer markets and retail stores. Also, “Certified Organic” cannot be used on product labels from exempt growers/producers. Those that intend to file for an exempt status must complete the appropriate forms in this package and return to GDA.
All organic producers must register with the Georgia Department of Agriculture. There is no cost for registration and the information is placed on our website for consumers to use in their search for locally produced organic foods.
National Organic Certification Cost Share Program
At this time, there is no funding available for the 2013 Cost Share Program. Funding for the Cost Share Program is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Farm Bill. The 2008 Farm Bill has expired and Congress has not passed a new Farm Bill.
If funding is made available later this year, certified producers and handlers will be eligible for participation in the National Organic Cost Share Program. To participate, producers and handlers must be certified by a USDA accredited certifying agent and the certification expenses must be incurred during the current Federal Fiscal Year (Oct. 1, 2012 through Sept. 30, 2013). Interested persons should apply as soon as possible because funds, if provided, will be limited. The deadline for applications is Sept. 20, 2012.