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March 19, 2009

Certified Growers and Handlers of Organic Agricultural Products Eligible for Cost-Share Assistance

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Department of Agriculture has obtained an additional $45,000 to reimburse growers and handlers of organic agricultural products for the cost of their USDA certification.

The new funding, which doubles the amount of assistance available, is for producers and handlers who either obtained or renewed their certification in the federal fiscal year that ended  Sept. 30, 2008.  Reimbursements also are available for certification costs incurred in the current federal fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, 2009.  Those funds were announced previously.

“This program covers 75 percent of certification costs, up to a maximum of $750, for eligible recipients,” Agriculture Director Tom Jennings said.  “However, the funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so I encourage those interested to contact us as soon as possible.”

The funds will be distributed to eligible recipients in the order their applications are returned.  Producers may apply for reimbursement even if they have received payments through the program in previous years.  However, there is an annual limit of one reimbursement per farm.

The assistance comes from the USDA’s National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program.  Funds that have not been dispersed by Sept. 30 must be returned to the federal government.

Application forms can be obtained either online by visiting the department’s website at http://www.agr.state.il.us/marketing/Mkt_Organic_Cost_Share_Program.html or by calling the department’s Bureau of Marketing and Promotion at (217) 524-9129.  Growers and handlers must return the forms along with copies of their W-9 form, their annual organic certificate, a bill or invoice from their accredited certifying agent and proof such as a canceled check that the bill has been paid.



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