LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Agriculture Department (AAD) is accepting applications from producers for reimbursement under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Certification Cost Share Program.


Organic certification fees paid between Oct. 1, 2017 and Sept. 30, 2018, are eligible. Applications for reimbursement are due by Nov. 1, according to a news release from the agriculture department.


Reimbursement for 75 percent of certification costs up to $750 is available for operators who were certified by a USDA accredited certifying agent. Certification costs that have already been reimbursed through the USDA-Farm Service Agency or other agencies are not eligible. The AAD administers the USDA National Organic Program Organic Certification Cost Share through funding provided by USDA.


“Anything we can do to help offset costs for Arkansas producers is a win for agriculture, which is our state’s top industry,” Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward said. “We appreciate the opportunity to partner with the USDA on this program that provides important cost-share assistance to an expanding sector of Arkansas’s agricultural industry.”


According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Arkansas had 64 organically certified farms totaling 4,871 acres in 2016, an increase of 1,500 percent from 2014. Of the $39.8 million in reported certified organic sales in Arkansas in 2016, $30.1 million (76 percent) was from the sale of livestock and poultry products, such as milk, eggs, and wool. The sale of livestock and poultry accounted for $5.4 million (14 percent), and $4.3 million (11 percent) was from the sale of crops.


Applications are available at https://www.cognitoforms.com/ArkansasAgriculture1/NationalOrganicCertificationCostShareApplication.


Details: Mary Elizabeth Lea, 501-225-159, or maryelizabeth.lea@agriculture.arkansas.gov.