Organic agriculture is the application of a set of cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. These include maintaining or enhancing soil and water quality; conserving wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife. Whether you are a specialty crop producer, rancher, dairy, egg producer, poultry, or row crop producer, USDA offers a variety of programs and services, from farm loans to crop insurance, and conservation programs to disaster assistance.
The Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP) provides pandemic assistance for certification and education expenses for certified or transitioning to organic agricultural producers.
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 with Organic Certification Fees?
FSA’s Organic Cost Share Program provides up to $500 or 50% towards obtaining or renewing your organic certification fees.
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.
Find Your Local Service Center
We are committed to delivering USDA services to America’s farmers and ranchers while taking safety measures in response to the pandemic. Some USDA offices are beginning to reopen to limited visitors by appointment only. Service Center staff also continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email, and other digital tools. Learn more at farmers.gov/coronavirus.
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.