An environmental resource for East Tennessee Businesses

State helps TN farmers pay for certifications

That state of Tennessee will now share costs for farmers here to earn the USDA organic certification

Certified organic producers can apply to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture for a 75 percent cost share up to a maximum of $750 to help defray costs related to receiving and maintaining organic certification, including inspection costs. Organic operations that have achieved certification since October 1, 2014 meet the time qualification to seek reimbursement, as do organic operations that become certified between now and September 30, 2015.

Organic certification typically costs small farm producers between $600 and $1,000 annually. Costs increase based on product and sales volume.

Organic product sales by farms and ranches in the United States grew 83 percent between 2007 and 2012, said Amy Tavlin, TDA marketing specialist.

"When we respond to consumer interest with programs that help our farmers participate more competitively in these trends, everyone benefits," Tavalin said. "Farms increase their incomes, their rural communities thrive because of it, and Tennesseans get greater access to the fresh, local products they want."

Additional reimbursement is available to fruit and vegetable growers who earn the Good Agriculture Practices certification.

Qualifying costs related to GAPs certification include application fees, inspection costs and inspector travel. Late fees, materials and supplies, and equipment costs are not eligible for reimbursement.

Reimbursements are limited to 50 percent of an individual's certification costs up to a maximum of $1,500. Expenses related to the certification must be incurred between January 1, 2015 and September 30, 2015. Applications are approved on a first-come, first-served basis until funds are depleted.

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