Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture allots up to US$95,000 for new round of organic certification cost-share assistance to organic farmers, livestock operators, produce handlers

HONOLULU , December 8, 2011 (press release) – The state Department of Agriculture (HDOA) is currently accepting applications for a new round of organic certification cost-share assistance to organic farmers, organic livestock operators and organic produce handlers.

Renewed federal funding totaling up to $95,000 has been allotted to help Hawaii agribusinesses with the cost of organic certification through two separate cooperative agreements executed between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and HDOA.

Organic farmers and livestock operators are required to have their farms and practices inspected annually and certified by an agent approved by the USDA.

Seventy-five percent of the cost of this inspection and certification (up to a maximum of $750) is eligible for reimbursement under the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (AMAOCCSP), which was authorized under the Federal Crop Insurance Act.

This is the fourth consecutive year that Hawaii has participated in this program. Once again, Hawaii has been allotted $75,000 for the funding period Oct. 1, 2011 through Sept. 30, 2012.

In addition, the USDA has a separate program to assist companies certified as organic processors/handlers. As with the growers, processors/handlers are required to be inspected and re-certified annually.

Under the USDA National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (NOCCSP), funding of $20,000 has been allotted to Hawaii to reimburse 75 percent of the cost of this certification (up to a maximum of $750).

“This cost-sharing program provides a good incentive for organic farmers to become certified,” said Russell S. Kokubun, chairman of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “As the organic industry grows, so does the need for certified processors and handlers, who are also included in this program.”

The HDOA has been participating in the USDA NOCCSP since 2004 to assist and encourage the growth of organic farming in the state. The initial program allotted $40,000 to reimburse both growers/producers and processors/handlers over a four-year period.

In recognition of the growth and importance of organic farming in Hawaii and across the nation, the USDA increased the total funding and separated the certification categories into two programs in 2008.

To receive reimbursement, the date of certification or renewal by a USDA accredited certifying agent must occur between Oct. 1, 2011 and Sept. 30, 2012

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