Did you know if you are certified producer/ handler (processor), you can receive assistance for those certification costs? The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) manages the Organic Cost Share program with funding from USDA. This is an annual opportunity to have a certain percentage of certification costs reimbursed. The Cost Share Program can cover first time or renewal certification-related expenses, and up to 75 percent of the cost of each certification during the time period of October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015. For details and information on applying, click here.
Here’s how it works:
- If you’re not yet certified, contact a local certifier, or for a national list, click here.
- If you are already a certified operation, download and fill out the Reimbursement form, along with tax forms, proof of certification, and itemized expenses; and get reimbursed by MDAR.
Dan Pratt, Farm Manger at Astarte Farm in Hadley appreciates the program. “It is a big help towards the certification costs as it covers 75% up to $750. The program allows us to be proud of the organic label and know how important it is to our Massachusetts consumers.”
Kate O'Dwyer from Langwater Farm in N. Easton states, "Our farm has benefited from the Organic Certification Cost Share every year that the program has been available since we started our farm. Organic vegetable production has higher costs than conventional production. In addition to the higher labor costs associated with the intensive hand weeding, organic seed and fertilizer costs are higher than the conventional equivalents, while yields can often be lower. With the increased expense of organic production, it is helpful that at least the certification fees can be subsidized."
According to the 2012 USDA Census, Massachusetts has 198 organic farms with a value of over $26 million in sales. The number of farms went down from the last Census (2007) from 295, but the value of sales in MA increased 50%. The average farm went from $59k to over $132k in sales. To find retail organic farms, visit us at the Massgrown website, Mass.gov/Massgrown, or more general information, visit NOFA Mass.