~Farmer Friday: Organic Certification Cost Share and Bee Heaven Farm~
Welcome to the first Farmer Friday!
Each Friday in November and December, we are excited to bring you stories of what Florida Organic Growers (FOG) has accomplished in the organic and farming industry and how its impacted farmers, consumers and the community while spotlighting farmers in Florida who have benefitted from our work.
Organic Certification Cost Share: How FOG helped make it happen
FOG was key in the development of the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program. In 1999, Florida, along with Minnesota and North Carolina, experimented with a statewide cost share certification program to reimburse organic producers a portion of their organic certification costs. FOG Executive Director Marty Mesh’s goal was to provide a way for small farmers to continue organic certification without being priced out of the marketplace due to the escalating certification costs.
Thanks to FOG’s hard work and persistence, the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program is still in existence and was included in the 2014 Farm Bill that passed earlier this year.
Farmer Margie Pikarsky, owner of Bee Heaven Farm, a five-acre diversified family farm in Homestead, has benefitted from the cost share program and is a strong proponent of organic certification.
“The organic cost share program has helped make organic certification affordable for me, and for small farmers everywhere,” said Margie. “I always hear people saying that they can’t afford organic certification because it costs too much. They expect to spend $1000 or more and just can’t justify it. These folks don’t know about the cost share program, so I explain it to them.”
“I’ve been taking advantage of this cost share every year since it began, except for one year that the program wasn’t funded. That year took a bite out of us, so I’m happy to see that it’s been funded again in the Farm Bill. I’m grateful that we have a champion like Marty Mesh fighting for organic farmers!”
Part of FOG’s mission is to advocate for family scale farmers and make sure they aren’t left behind as policies such as, Organic Certification Cost Share Program are developed.