FVC Member Program: Veteran Organic Training Program

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, organic food sales in the United States have shown double-digit growth during most years since 1990, with sales approaching $37 billion last year alone. To meet this growing demand, Farmer Veteran Coalition created the Veteran Organic Training Program.

Established in September 2015, the Veteran Organic Training Program is designed to cover FVC member’s costs to organically certify their farms, from the new application fee through certification.

Organic certification verifies that a farm or handling facility complies with USDA organic regulations and allows producers to sell, label, and represent their products as organic. The USDA organic regulations recognize four categories of organic products: crops, livestock, processed products, and wild crops.

While the costs and fees associated with organic certification vary depending on the size and scope of the operation, FVC is fortunate to have two organic certifying agencies—California Certified Organic Farmers and Oregon Tilth—on board that will waive new application and base certification fees respectively, removing a crucial barrier to initiate the organic certification process.

Because the new application/base certification fees are only a portion of the fees associated with organic certification, United Natural Foods, Inc., has awarded FVC with a $6,000 grant to cover the remaining costs of organic certification. These funds, which will be administered on a first come, first serve basis, can be used for inspection fees and other costs associated with the inspection process.

To utilize this program, an FVC member would first select which certifying agency they prefer to work with. California Certified Organic Farmers and Oregon Tilth both waive the initial fees, however, FVC members must have enough money on-hand to cover the remaining certification fees. Upon completion of the certification process, members would then submit documentation to FVC for reimbursement.

Since the Veteran Organic Training Program’s inception, FVC has assisted five members with organic certification, all of which are still navigating the process.

“The organic certification process can be lengthy,” said Aaron Magill, manager of the Veteran Organic Training Program. “Often auditors need to see plants in the ground, farming practices in action, livestock birthing, et cetera, before an organic certification can be given. Everything from record keeping to farming practices will be scrutinized, but FVC will advise and assist every step of the way.”

For members who aren’t sure if organic certification makes sense for their operation, or have questions about the process, FVC and CCOF are hosting a series of webinars in the coming months covering topics such as where to start to get certified organic, organic recordkeeping, and labeling organic produce. The first webinar, ‘Go Organic,’ will be held April 21, and will detail the steps necessary to begin organic farming or transition existing operations toward organic certification.

Click here for the full schedule of webinars, and to register.

For members interested in the Veteran Organic Training Program, please contact the FVC by emailing, or by calling (530) 756-1395.