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 assistance and crop insurance premium assistance 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 75% or up to $750 per category of certification costs. Categories include:
- Wild crops
- State organic program fees (California only)
OCCSP covers costs incurred from Oct. 1, 2022, through Sept. 30, 2023.
To apply, producers and handlers should contact the FSA at their local USDA Service Center or their participating state department of agriculture. As part of completing the OCCSP applications, producers and handlers will need to provide documentation of their organic certification and eligible expenses.
Sign-up begins on May 15, 2023, and runs through Nov. 1, 2023. Learn more about OCCSP.
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
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 Land and Capital
Organic farmers can apply for the same loans and programs as conventional farmers. Farm loans can help you buy or lease land, buy equipment, build or upgrade storage facilities, and help with other operating costs. To access an interactive online, step-by-step guide through the farm loan process, visit the Farm Loan Assistance Tool.
Learn more about access to land and capital.
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.
As part of the Organic Transition Initiative, the Risk Management Agency has the Transitional Organic Grower Assistance Program (TOGA). This program offers premium assistance to agricultural producer who have purchased crop insurance coverage on crops in transition to organic or a certified organic grain or feed crop.
TOGA reduces a producer's overall crop insurance premium bill and helps them continue to use organic agricultural systems.
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.
RMA Specialty Crop Liaisons
RMA Specialty Crop Liaisons are located in each of the 10 regional offices throughout the US. The liaisons identify risk management needs for local specialty crop producers, which includes many organic producers.
Producers are encouraged to reach out to their local crop liaison with questions and to request additional information about crop insurance coverage for specialty crops. Find your local specialty crop liaison.
Growing Organic with USDA Webinar
- Video: June 6 Webinar - Growing Organic with USDA Webinar
- Presentation: June 6 Webinar - Growing Organic with USDA
- Webinar Blog Post: June 6, 2023 Webinar - Growing Organic with USDA
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.
- Oct 25, 2023: USDA Publishes New Standards for Organic Livestock and Poultry Production, Promotes More Competitive Organic Market
- Sept. 20, 2023: USDA Provides $5 Million in Second Round of Payments to Help Organic Dairy Producers Cover Increased Costs
- USDA CARES Partner Portal – Resources for underserved farmers, ranchers, and landowners and partners who work with them
- July 21, 2023: USDA Extends Deadline for Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Until August 11
- June 6, 2023: Webinar: Growing Organic with USDA
- May 19, 2023: USDA Offers Assistance to Help Organic Dairy Producers Cover Increased Costs
- May 10, 2023: USDA Announces New Steps to Enhance Organic Markets and Support Producers
- April 10, 2023: NRCS Announces $75 Million to Assist Producers Transitioning to Organic as Part of USDA’s Organic Transition Initiative
- 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.