March 21, 2011

Director of Agriculture Announces Funding Programs for Missouri Farms

The Missouri Department of Agriculture announced that funding is now available through U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to aid Missourians in establishing new specialty crop production ventures and obtaining organic certification for their businesses.

"Specialty crop and organic certification grants provides assistance to Missouri producers in reaching their goals and paving their way to increased opportunities in agriculture," said Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler. "We continue to look for every opportunity to assist and support our state's agricultural producers. This funding is just one more way that helps farmers grow their businesses by eliminating one of the financial hurdles of bringing these products to market."

The Missouri Department of Agriculture anticipates receiving more than $200,000 during fiscal year 2011 from the USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty Crops are defined by the USDA as fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, maple syrup, honey, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.

Applicants may apply for competitive grant awards up to $30,000 during the 2011 fiscal year for a two-year specialty crop project. Projects must impact and produce measureable outcomes for the specialty crop industry and/or the public rather than a single organization, institution or individual.

The Organic Certification Cost-Share program provides financial assistance for Missouri farmers and food processors working to obtain organic certification for their growing practices and processing facilities under USDA regulations. Producers may apply for reimbursement for up to 75 percent of their certification costs, not to exceed $750.

The USDA National Organic Program grant funds available to Missouri producers increased to $70,000 of assistance available in the state for 2011. The additional $20,000 made available this month will be distributed via a cost-share program. Operations certified as both an organic producer and an organic handler under the USDA National Organic Program may be eligible for assistance in both of those categories.

To apply for assistance with organic certification costs, producers must be located in Missouri, submit a copy of their current organic certification or documents indicating their progress toward organic certification under USDA regulations, a completed Vendor Input Form and copies of receipts or other documentation of expenditures related to obtaining organic certification from the USDA.

Since 2002, Missouri has received over $200,000 to assist operations in achieving certification for organic production and processing. This program allocates funds to state organic programs in proportion to the number of organic producers and handlers within each state.

For more information on the Missouri Department of Agriculture, visit