Beyond the Soil: Resources for Organic Growers

Tuesday September 18, 2017


Florida Organic Growers: Executive Director at Florida Organic Growers (FOG) will start the day off talking about the state of organic farming in Florida and talk about the programs and support provided by FOG. 


Quality Certification Services: Quality Certification Services (QCS) is the certification program of Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers Inc., a nonprofit organization that began certifying organic growers in 1987 and received its USDA accreditation in 2001. As an industry leader with more than 30 years of experience in certification, QCS has clients in 39 states and 12 countries, meeting the needs of farming operations regardless of type, location, or size in the ever-expanding worldwide market.

Are you thinking about getting certified, but don't know where to start? Are you unsure if certification is right for you? Do you have questions about the USDA organic standards? Come join two accredited certifying agents as they explain the National Organic Program crop and livestock requirements, the certification process, and tips for filling out an application. This interactive presentation is great for crop and livestock producers, ag professionals, and organic food enthusiasts!


SSARE: The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program is a USDA-funded organization that works with farmers/ranchers, university researchers, extension agents, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and others in the ag industry to advance sustainable agriculture production and marketing practices. 

The primary tools of the SARE program are research grants. Here in the Southern region, we offer grants to researchers, farmers/ranchers, NGOs, non-profits, educators, and others in the ag community. Grants are not the only tools, but grant funds are understood to be the chief lubricant in the development of new approaches and new ideas. SARE seeks out innovation in sustainable agriculture, and rewards grant applicants who offer up interesting, potentially workable ideas. The SARE program also emphasizes outreach and the dissemination of project results so that the grant program will have the widest possible benefits.

In addition to grants, the SARE program develops educational resources on sustainable ag techniques, many of them a result of the grants that are funded through the program. To learn more, visit


Natural Resource  Conservation Service (NRCS): Farmers, ranchers and forest landowners can receive financial assistance from NRCS to make improvements to their land. NRCS conservationists provide technical expertise and conservation planning for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners wanting to make conservation improvements to their land. NRCS provides incentives to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners wanting to put wetlands, agricultural land, grasslands and forests under long-term easements. Monica Jones will be going over the role of NRCS, the 5 steps to assistance, your eligibility, organic initiatives, and conservation practices.


Risk Management, USDA: The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) provides innovative crop insurance products to help America’s farmers and ranchers manage for adverse weather and financial, marketing, production, human-resource, and legal risks.

Federal crop insurance is the pre-eminent risk management solution for farmers and ranchers, providing effective coverage that helps them recover after severe weather and bad years of production. For some farming and ranching operations, crop insurance is the difference between staying in business or going out of business after a disaster. For the next generation, crop insurance provides the stability that will allow them to begin farming through beginning farmer and rancher benefits.

Come learn about crop insurance options for farmers in Florida!


Farm Service Agency: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP), administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), provides organic producers and handlers with financial assistance to reduce the cost of organic certification. The program reimburses producers and handlers for a portion of their paid certification costs. Once certified, organic producers and handlers are eligible to receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of certification costs each year, up to a maximum of $750 per certification scope—crops, livestock, wild crops and processing/handling. USDA Farm Service Agency Farm Loan Programs

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) makes and guarantees loans to family farmers and ranchers to promote, build and sustain family farms in support of a thriving agricultural economy.  FSA’s loan programs are designed to help family farmers to start, purchase or expand their farming operation. In many cases, these are beginning farmers who need additional financial and business acumen to qualify for commercial credit. In other cases, they are farmers who have suffered financial setbacks from natural disasters, or who need additional resources with which to establish and maintain profitable farming operations.  Come learn about our microloans ($50,000 or under), operating loans, farm ownership loans, tips for completing a loan application and decisions loan officials make with every request (eligibility/feasibility and security).


Farm Credit: Farm Credit of Florida is the largest agricultural and rural lender in Florida! During the session we will cover the various products and services offered by Farm Credit, from loans and leases to crop insurance. The presentation will outline the application process, what lenders look for, and tips for preparing farm financial documents. We are dedicated to agriculture and we know the challenges that farmers face; we proudly serve the vast and diverse segments of agriculture represented across Florida.


IFAS: The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is a federal-state-county partnership dedicated to developing knowledge in agriculture, human and natural resources, and the life sciences. Nearly 400 state and county faculty and staff have at least some formal program responsibility in agriculture. Extension offices in every county offer a range of free and fee-based programs for farmers and consumers. UF/IFAS faculty conduct collaborative research with and for farmers on 45 acres of USDA Certified Organic land at two off-campus Centers as well as on-farms. The Department of Horticultural Sciences offers an undergraduate degree program featuring Organic Crop Production as an area of specialization. UF/IFAS was recognized by the Organic Farming Research Foundation in 2012 as one of six universities receiving the highest score possible for organic research, education and outreach programs in the U.S.