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Take Action to Save the Organic Certification Cost-Share Program

As the Agriculture Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives drafts language for the next Farm Bill, it is considering sweeping cuts to programs that support organic agriculture. One dire threat is significantly reducing, and possibly eliminating, the cost-share program for certified organic growers and processors. MOFGA certified organic producers benefit greatly from this program, with over 90% of producers participating annually. Our partners working in DC report that time is of the essence to defend this benefit to organic agriculture. It is absolutely critical that our community raises its collective voice in support of the organic cost-share program.
Please contact our congressional delegation today!
Senator Susan Collins
Senator Angus King
Representative Chellie Pingree
Representative Bruce Poliquin
Suggestions for making effective calls:
It’s best to use your own words and experience, but here are some things to think about beforehand.
  • Ask to speak with the staffer who works on agriculture.
  • Tell the staffer that you are calling as a constituent and an organic farmer/processor.
  • Express appreciation for the senator’s/representative’s leadership in growing and protecting organic agriculture.
  • Ask them to voice strong support for organic certification cost-share in the next Farm Bill.
  • Tell them that Congress should reauthorize, with adequate funding, organic certification cost share because the program helps organic farmers stay in business and keep jobs here in our local economy.
  • Explain how organic certification cost-share is important to your farming operation and to organic farms and processors around Maine.
  • Explain that going through the annual certification process is challenging for many reasons and the cost of annual certification is expensive.
  • Emphasize how your farm is protecting natural resources and, by getting certified each year, you are demonstrating compliance with the beneficial conservation practices required by national organic regulations.
  • Point out that organic agriculture is a bright spot in our economy. These are jobs that can and should be created here at home. Rather than relying on imports, certified organic farmers in our communities should be supported in their efforts to meet that demand.

Sound and Sensible Organic Certification Video Series

A new Sound and Sensible Organic Certification video series, filmed in Washington State and developed by WSDA (Washington State Dept of Agriculture), features certified organic clients and addresses some common questions about USDA Organic regulations and the certification process. They include:

These videos were developed in partnership with USDA National Organic Program as part of the Sound and Sensible Initiative. For more information on other Sound and Sensible projects, visit the National Organic Program.


Organic Certification: A Critical Link in the Supply Chain

As the demand for organic food and products in the United States has grown dramatically over the last 10 years, so has the complexity of organic supply chains. The supply chain, domestically and internationally, now involves a series of complex transactions with businesses that grow, handle, package, manufacture and transport organic goods. USDA accredited certifiers ensure that the integrity of the supply chain is unbroken from farm to table for American families.

Ensuring Public Trust in the Organic Seal

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service National Organic Program (NOP) provides training and support for more than 2,000 certifier staff worldwide so they have the necessary tools to ensure the integrity of the system through consistent enforcement of the law.

Today, the agency published an interim instruction, NOP 4013: Maintaining the Integrity of Organic Imports, that provides a range of available information in one convenient place. The interim instruction details the requirements for certifiers who oversee organic products imported into the United States. The instruction:

  • Clarifies responsibilities for certifiers in the U.S. and around the world
  • Recommends best practices for reviewing and issuing import related documents
  • Highlights handling instructions needed to maintain the integrity of the organic status for imported organic products
  • Details required documentation and recordkeeping

Public Comments Welcomed

While Interim Instruction NOP 4013 is designed to assist USDA accredited certifiers, public comment is also invited.

The 60-day public comment period runs from October 25, 2017 until December 26, 2017.

NCAT Grower Survey

The 2014 Farm Bill required the USDA to create premium organic price elections for all commodities and to offer a new insurance product—Whole-Farm Revenue Protection.

We are conducting a national survey of needs and attitudes, in order to make recommendations to the USDA on further improvements to crop insurance for organic, diversified, and specialty crop growers.

That survey closes October 31, 2017.

Please take a confidential 20-minute survey at And share the link with friends and colleagues; here’s a social media post you can use.

Anyone farming or ranching commercially in the United States is eligible to participate, and we are offering a $20 honorarium to early respondents.The survey can be taken on any computer, smart phone, or other mobile device. To preview the survey before taking it, go to

For more information, click here or e-mail

Farm Bill Fridays

The House Agriculture Committee on Friday launched a new video series entitled “Farm Bill Friday,” and said it would release a new video from members of the House Conference weekly highlighting the importance of a strong Farm Bill for all Americans. Watch committee member Congressman Don Bacon of Nebraska kick off the Farm Bill Friday series.

More time proposed for produce water standards

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing extending compliance deadlines on Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) provisions for produce water standards. Finalized in 2015, the water standards aim at keeping deadly pathogens like E. coli 0157:H7 out of water used to grow crops by increasing testing and monitoring efforts. The proposed extension appeared Wednesday in the Federal Register. FDA said it would extend compliance deadlines after receiving feedback from farmers and other stakeholders that more time is necessary to ensure farmers have the necessary training and information to comply and that states establish strong produce regulatory programs before inspections begin. To learn more about the Organic Trade Association’s role in shaping food safety regulations, visit our food safety web page. The proposed rule is open for public comment until November 13.

Mainers Urged to Sign Up for Free Disposal of Unusable Pesticides

AUGUSTA— This October, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) will team up with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to help Mainers dispose of unusable and waste pesticides. The Obsolete Pesticides Collection Program, jointly sponsored by the BPC and DEP, and funded through pesticide product registration fees, has kept more than 99 tons of pesticides out of the waste stream since its start in 1982.

This free annual program is open to homeowners, family-owned farms and greenhouses. Collections will occur at four sites: Presque Isle, Bangor, Augusta, and Portland. Participants must pre-register by September 29, 2017. Drop-ins are not permitted. The collected chemicals will be taken to out-of-state disposal facilities licensed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency where they are incinerated or reprocessed. Click here for more info!

MCS has moved!

The Organic Sprout – Spring 2017

MCS_Organic Sprout_Spring2017_FInal

The spring Organic Sprout is here! Certified producers will receive a copy in the mail, but you can read it online right now.

MCS Staff Announcement

Katy Green has joined MCS as a full time staff inspector and materials reviewer, and is replacing our outgoing staff inspector, Jake Galle. Katy has worked for MOFGA since 2008, primarily helping farmers and processors transition to organic production.  This work has allowed Katy to travel all over the state offering assistance, guidance, and answering questions about complying with the organic standards.  She is excited that her work with MCS will still have her traveling all over the state and that she’ll be able to apply the knowledge learned from working with clients transitioning to organic production to her new role working with the certification program.  Katy can be reached at her same email address: