USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced this week that they are reducing reimbursement rates for the Organic Certification Cost Share Program. Congress set the current reimbursement rates in the 2018 Farm Bill at 75 percent of the certified organic operation’s eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $750 per scope. FSA plans to lower the rate to 50 percent of eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $500 per scope. This reduction comes in the middle of a global crisis, at a time when it is critical to support our organic farms and processors as essential to our recovery.
We at NOFA-VT and VOF are working with Vermont's Congressional delegation to fight this decision and restore full reimbursement to all organic operations.
Here is what we need from you! Contact FSA at the federal and local level to let them know:
- The Organic Certification Cost Share Program is an important tool to help organic farmers stay in business. Organic businesses need this support now more than ever because of the lost markets and increased costs to keep workers and customers safe during the pandemic.
- Congress established reimbursement rates in the 2018 Farm Bill. It is unacceptable for FSA to disregard Congressional funding directives.
- It is vital that FSA reinstate the full organic certification cost share reimbursement.
FSA CONTACT INFORMATION:
FEDERAL: Tona Huggins, Program Policy Branch Chief, (202) 720-6825, [email protected]
VERMONT: Wendy Wilton, Vermont State Executive Director, (802) 658-2803, [email protected]
In the meantime, VOF will be sending our applications for reimbursement to our organic producers. We encourage our certified producers to apply for cost share assistance as soon as you receive the paperwork. Operations have until November 2, 2020 to apply for funding.