Financial Assistance Programs for Organic
Organic farmers may be particularly interested in the following PA Farm Bill programs:
- Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Grant Program offers research and development, organic transition, value-added processing, and marketing grants in support of Pennsylvania's Dairy Industry
- Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program provides funding in the form of a reimbursement grant to eligible applicants seeking to improve urban agriculture infrastructure in Pennsylvania. These grants will build out the infrastructure of urban agriculture by investing in the system, filling gaps, encouraging entities to work together, finding ways to bring operations to a greater scale, overcoming food deserts, and opening opportunities for people to become social entrepreneurs.
- Very Small Meat Processor Grant Program provides funding to reimburse some portion of the costs associated with meeting federal inspection and certification guidelines during the planning and start-up periods for a very small meat processor operating within this commonwealth.
- Resource Enhancement & Protection Program (REAP) - farmers, landowner, and businesses earn tax credits for implementing "Best Management Practices" (BMPs) that will enhance farm production and protect natural resources.
- Farm Vitality Planning Grant helps fund professional services for those planning for the future of a farm. The program will enhance the long-term vitality of Pennsylvania's farms through sound business planning, efficient transitions of farm ownership, strategic farm expansion, diversification of agricultural production, and building a team of financial and technical expertise as a resource for Pennsylvania's farmers.
- Realty Transfer Tax Exemption is available for the transfer of preserved farmland to a qualified beginning farmer
PDA administers the Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (OCCSP) to offset a portion of annual organic certification costs. Certified operations may receive up to 75 percent of their certification costs paid during the program year, not to exceed $750 per certification scope. OCCSP applications are approved on a "first received and complete, first to get approved" basis. Only one application for cost-share per year will be accepted per operation. The annual application postmark deadline is October 31.
Financial Assistance Programs through USDA
The following is a list of programs that may be helpful to organic producers or those transitioning to organic. This list is not exhaustive, and those interested in learning more about what programs are currently open should contact their USDA local service center for more information.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) program offers cost-share financial assistance to farmers interested in transitioning to organic production to hire a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) to develop a Supporting Organic Transition Conservation Activity Plan (CAP). This is a plan that documents decisions by producers working to implement a system of conservation practices which assist the producer to transition from conventional to an organic production system. It is important to note that this CAP is not the same thing as an Organic System Plan (OSP), however it will help producers on their journey to implementing an OSP.
Producers and landowners can apply for and receive funding through the regular EQIP program in addition to special EQIP options available only to certified organic farmers or farmers who are transitioning to organic farming. Producers with organic operations do not compete against non-organic farmers for these special funds.
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) program helps agricultural producers maintain and improve 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 USDA Rural Development Value-Added Producer Grants offer funding to producers to process their raw products into value-added products, such as making applesauce from apples. Grants may be used for planning activities and for working capital.
The USDA Farm Service Agency Microloans Programs focus on the financing needs of small, beginning farmer, niche and non-traditional farm operations. The maximum loan amount is $50,000.
The Farm Storage Facility Loan Program provides low-interest financing so producers can build or upgrade facilities to store commodities.