USDA offers numerous programs to help farmers, ranchers, and businesses access the organic market. This page explains USDA's top resources supporting organic agriculture. For more comprehensive, in-depth guides, take a look at the following resources:
Loans, Financing, and Conservation Assistance
The Organic Certification Cost-Share Program works with State departments of agriculture to reimburse eligible operations for as much as 75 percent of their certification costs - up to a maximum of $750 a year. This program is open to producers and handlers across the United States.
The USDA Farm Service Agency can support both organic producers and those transitioning to organic certification:
- The Conservation Reserve Program provides financial assistance to establish protective natural borders along fields that produce organic crops, such as field windbreaks, shelterbelts, filter strips, bird and pollinator habitats.
- The Microloan Program offers streamlined financial assistance for farm ownership or operating costs, such as operating expenses, machinery, equipment, seed, fertilizer, repairs, land and water conservation, real estate purchases, and more.
- The Farm Storage Facility Loan Program makes low-interest financing available for permanent or portable, new or used storage and handling equipment, including refrigerated and mobile storage.
- The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program offers financial assistance for losses of non-insurable crops due to natural disasters. Organic crops may receive the organic average market price.
- Loans against unsold, stored commodities are available for stored commodities pledged as collateral to provide interim financing to help organic producers meet cash flow needs without having to sell commodities after harvest when market prices are low.
- Personalized local support such as mapping farm and field boundaries and reporting organic acreage that can be provided to a farm's organic certifier or crop insurance agent.
Business plans are key to the success of farms and ranches. Take a look at USDA resources on planning for your business.
USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service provides technical and financial assistance to producers who are certified organic, as well as those who are transitioning (PDF) to certified organic agriculture. Numerous NRCS conservation practices help producers meet USDA organic practice standards through the use of cover crops, nutrient management plans, grazing plans, fencing, irrigation, buffers and more. While all programs can support organic producers, the following programs offer key assistance:
- The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land.
- The EQIP Organic Initiative is only open to producers must be certified organic, transitioning to organic certification, or exempt from certification, which means less competition for funding. NRCS's Conservation Activity Plan 138 helps transitioning-to-organic producers by addressing the natural resource concerns of their operation.
- The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) helps agricultural producers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities to address priority resource concerns. Participants earn CSP payments for conservation performance: the higher the performance, the higher the payment.
- The Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) Program helps agricultural producers manage risk and solve natural resource issues through conservation.
- Organic Crop Insurance Fact Sheet
- Organic Premium Price Elections Available by Commodity
- Contract Price Addendum
- Whole Farm Revenue Protection
Value-Added Producer Grants from USDA's Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS) offer funding to independent producers to process their raw products into processed products, such as making applesauce from apples. Grants may be used for planning activities and for working capital, as well as for farm-based renewable energy.
USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service Grant Programs, including the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Programs, as well as Specialty Crop Block Grants, may support projects related to organic agriculture. Grantees are generally businesses, non-profits, tribes, or other entities.