How Much Does it Cost to Get USDA Organic Certification?


Getting certified as organic can be one of the best moves you can make for your farming business. Proving to buyers that your products meet the guidelines of the USDA organic standards can help to boost your sales and your reputation within the community. The actual cost to obtain organic certification can vary.

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The size of your farm or business, the type of product, and the certifying agent chosen will determine how much it costs. As a general average, it costs a new farmer trying to get organic certified $700.

Why the Fees Vary So Much

The USDA certifies specific agents to provide the organic certification. Just like any other type of business, each agent charges his or her own fees. There are 80 agents that can provide this service. Of those 80, only 48 are located within the US, the other 32 are abroad. Since the services are so limited, it does give the agents the upper hand when it comes to pricing. You can view the list of approved agents here.

Who Should You Choose?

Luckily, you are not required to use a specific certifying agent. In fact, the agent you choose doesn’t even have to be the one located the closest to you. Any agent on the list can certify your farm or business as organic. You’ll see that each agent has its own prices. You won’t find one set price, either, it will depend on the size of your business and how much you need certified. For example, are you certifying the entire organization or just one product/service?

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The Hidden Fees

You will likely have to pay more than just the certification fee, which as we said, can cost several thousand dollars. Along the way, you may also have to pay for:

  • Travel accommodations for the certifying agent
  • The cost of inspections
  • The cost of assessments
  • Renewal fees

Just as you would for any other product or service, make sure you shop around. Ask specific questions of any organic certifying agent that you talk to in order to make sure that you understand the full cost of the service. You are free to use any agent, so don’t settle for the first one that you find. Even though you will likely increase your profits by certifying organic, the costs to get the status can be high if you aren’t careful.

Also, keep in mind, once you obtain certification, you have to maintain it. This means more costs throughout the life of your certification. If you used an agent that had to travel to get to you, it means more travel costs. For any farmer or business with organic certification, it also means renewal and processing costs.

Try looking at the big picture to make sure getting organically certified is the right choice for you and is one that you can afford.

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