- The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday opportunities for cost sharing among organic producers beginning March 20, 2017, according to a news release.
- "Organic producers and handlers will be able to visit over 2,100 USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices around the country to apply for federal reimbursement to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic or transitional certification," the agency's news release says.
- This program will allow producers to access cost-share reimbursements for up to 75% of the cost of organic certification.
Because the costs of certification have often hindered farmers' and handlers' efforts to switch to organic, this program could have significant implications for the food and beverage industry. Demand for organic remains high with record sales attained last year, and the USDA reported a record growth rate for organic farms since 2008.
Still, the demand for organic ingredients has exceeded the available supply, which has pushed the USDA to find new ways to incentivize organic crop production. Financial incentives are one solution, particularly when they help producers cover the costs of certification to get their operations off the ground.
However, notable in this announcement is that such opportunities don't take effect until after the new presidential administration — including a new Secretary of Agriculture — takes office. The House Freedom Caucus recently released a sweeping list of regulations it recommends the new administration remove when they take office in the new year. It's too early to tell whether this particular program will stick by the time it's planned to come into effect.