Organic agriculture uses cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation and genetic engineering may not be used. Whether you’re an established organic operation or thinking about transitioning to organic, USDA has available programs and services.
Agricultural Marketing Service manages the National Organic Program and sets and enforces the national standards that protect the integrity of the USDA Organic Seal. They also list the Certification status of all organic farms and businesses in the U.S. Learn how to get certified, locate a certifier or even how to become a certifier.
Need Help Transitioning to Organic?
The Organic Transition Initiative is a new suite of multi-agency programs to support farmers transitioning to organic production, including:
- Transition to Organic Partnership Program, providing field-based assistance, workshops, field days, access to resources and peer-to-peer mentoring for transitioning farmers.
- Direct Support through Conservation and Crop Insurance for transitioning and existing organic farmers.
- Improving Organic Supply Chain Security in targeted markets to ensure transitioned products have access to processing, storage, distribution, and consumer markets.
Need Help with Organic Certification Fees?
The Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP) covers 50% or up to $500 per category of certification costs. Categories include crops, wild crops, livestock, processing/handling and state organic program fees.
Meanwhile, the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP) covers:
- Certification costs for organic producers and handlers (25% or $250 per category)
- Eligible expenses for transitional producers, including fees for pre-certification inspections and development of an organic system plan (75% or $750)
- Registration fees for educational events (75% or $200)
- Soil testing (75% or $100)
Learn more in our May 16, 2022 news release.
USDA Data, Research, and Support
Through Organic Research, Education, and Extension Programs, USDA funds extension efforts with land-grant universities across the country, as well as research to support the continued growth of the organic sector.
Participate in USDA Extension’s eOrganic community of practice.
Why Work with USDA
Guidance and Technical Assistance
For conservation assistance – from high tunnels to biodiversity and composting facilities -- check out NRCS Assistance for Organics. We can help you comply with organic regulations and develop a conservation plan based on your goals and priorities for your land. In some cases, your conservation plan can be used as a part of your organic system plan when you apply for certification. Sometimes, we can also help you pay for the costs of conservation practices.
Access to Capital
Organic farmers can apply for the same loans and programs as conventional farmers.
Access to capital enables you to buy or lease land, buy equipment, build or upgrade storage facilities, and help with other operating costs. Learn more about access to land and capital.
If you want to establish conservation buffer zones, you may be interested in a 10-15 year contract through the Conservation Reserve Program to establish shrubs and trees, or support pollinating species.
See more information on other USDA funding like farm loans.
Insurance and Disaster Assistance
Agriculture is an inherently risky business. It’s important to plan for everyday business risks and those brought on by natural disasters. Federal crop insurance and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program are good options for managing risk.
We also offer disaster assistance to help your farm recover.
How to Work with USDA
Your first step should be to contact your USDA Service Center and make an appointment. Be sure to ask what documents you’ll need. Also consider -- what is your vision for your land and farm? What are your challenges?
If you need information in a language other than English, we can offer free translation services.
Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coordinators are USDA team members that can help you understand the USDA process and find the right assistance for your operation. We have coordinators across the country, and some states also have organic champions.
Historically Underserved Farmers and Ranchers
We offer help for the unique concerns of producers who meet the USDA definition of “historically underserved” -- beginning, socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and military veterans. In addition, women in agriculture are helping to pave the way for a better future. Use this tool to determine if you’re a limited resource producer.
In addition to our farm programs, there are many leadership opportunities for beginning farmers to contribute their voices and experience. Through USDA, you can take advantage of several key opportunities like committee elections, research and promotion programs, and federal advisory committees.
- November 9, 2022: USDA Releases Nationwide Farmer, Rancher and Forest Manager Prospective Customer Survey
- October 2022 Webinar: Organic Agriculture and the National Organic Program
- October 4, 2022: RMA Offers Virtual Workshops on Improvements to the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection and Micro Farm Insurance Options
- September 6, 2022: Webinar: Organic Agriculture as a Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Strategy
- August 22, 2022: News Release: USDA to Invest up to $300 million in New Organic Transition Initiative
- August 22, 2022: News Release: USDA Offers Greater Protection and Flexibility With RMA’s Transitional and Organic Grower Assistance
Find Your Local Service Center
USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to ﬁnd your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit offices.usda.gov.
Visit the Risk Management Agency website to ﬁnd a regional or compliance office or to ﬁnd an insurance agent near you.