USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced on August 10 that they are cutting reimbursement rates for the Organic Certification Cost Share Program from 75% to 50%.
This action by USDA is unwarranted and completely unacceptable, especially during a pandemic. The 2018 Farm Bill provided new funding for the program so there should be plenty of funds available for organic producers to continue receiving 75% cost share reimbursements.
The USDA’s August 10 Federal Register notice stated that FSA is “revising the reimbursement amount to 50 percent of the certified organic operation’s eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $500 per scope.” The 2018 Farm Bill clearly set reimbursement rates at 75 percent of the certified organic operation’s eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $750 per scope.
The 2018 Farm Bill provided new funding for the program and also directed USDA to use the program’s carryover balances from previous years to fund the program for fiscal years 2019 through 2023. Given these sources of funding, there should be plenty of funds available for the program’s operation in fiscal year 2020. This is not the time to be withholding funds from organic farmers and producers.
Nationally 15,634 operations received $8,897,116 in cost share reimbursements in 2018. In Maine, 360 operations received $253,900 in cost share reimbursements.