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US: Cost-share program to help aspiring organic growers

Agricultural producers seeking to grow certified organic vegetables, dry peas, flax and other specialty crops will be able get partial reimbursement of the certification costs under a program announced today at the annual meeting of the Montana Organic Association.

The amount available to each grower will depend on how many apply, said Ron de Yong, director of the Montana Department of Agriculture. To receive organic certification, qualified growers pay application, inspection and assessment fees based on the size of their operations.

"Assisting new growers with certification is important because we want to encourage new producers to certify. We believe strongly in the certification process as a guarantee to consumers that our products are truly organic," said Judy Owsowitz.

Funds available through a federal cost-share program several years ago were quickly exhausted in Montana. This year, the Montana Department of Agriculture elected to devote $37,500 from a federal specialty crop block grant to a similar cost-share effort to increase production and marketing opportunities for organic specialty crops.

The reimbursements will be limited to specialty crop producers with gross sales of $100,000 or less. Under a federal definition, specialty crops include vegetables, dry peas, lentils, flax and other crops not covered by USDA commodity programs. Other organic incentives are included in some versions of the 2007 Farm Bill under consideration in Congress.

More than 150 organic producers, shopkeepers, buyers and farmers seeking to switch to organic production attended the three-day Montana Organic Association conference.


Publication date: 12/6/2007


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