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Hi!  Has anyone gone through the process of getting certified and are you happy with the agency you chose?  According to the USDA's website it looks like there are 55 accredited certifying agencies in the U.S. so I'm a little overwhelmed.  
I spoke to three today.  One doesn't certify outside their state and the other two had about a $1500 difference in fees.  I'd love to hear some recommendations from others who have gone through this process.  Thanks so much!

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Not sure if this can help because I'm in canada, but USDA is certified here by EcoCert. There's the whole cosmetic certification (which in my opinion is a huge sham) that runs about $12000 and then there's USDA certification (whose equivalencies are COS+ and NOP) that runs about $2500. I'm going through the process now, so we'll have to see what comes of it! You can keep in touch if you like: naomiassaraf@yahoo.com :)
Great article. Thanks for sharing it!
Thank you Naomi! I found out about a cost share program that has been in the US for 3 years now where you can get reimbursed 75% of your certifying fees up to $750. I talked to the agriculture department in my state and they even recommended a neighboring state to do the certifying. The whole process after reimbursement is going to only cost $150!
There are State programs, "private non-profits" and "private for profit certifiers". You do want to make sure that the certifier you use will be around for the long haul and that you can afford the program after the cost-share program is retired - free money does not last forever (darn).

Good luck - I hope the state program next door can help you - many of them are not allowed to certify outside of their state. The Cost Share is available on a state by state basis, each state has to apply for it and administer the funds. I would guess there is a list on the NOP web site.

Having worked with certification for 20 years I always have one line of advice - when they ask you to change something you are doing, you should always ask both the folks at the office and the inspector on site, "Can you please tell or show me where that is in the law". Look carefully at what it says so you completely understand it. Even 8 years into this program I constantly hear of things that certifiers tell applicants they "have" to do that are not required or even necessary.

Good luck.
Thank you Gay! That is some great advice! This is a learning experience for me so I'll take all the advice I can get!

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