There is a licensing exception for the farmer whose gross organic receipts total less than $5000 in a year. These farmers are exempt from certification and can use the label "organic" but cannot use the USDA seal. Further, they are still bound by all the NOP rules, including record keeping and inspect-ability.

For a short, concise statement of this, go to the USDA website at, click on "NOP Regulations" (under "I Want Information On",) then "Fact Sheets" (under "Additional Information".) This is also where you can find ALL the information you need about NOP regulations and thus what is and is not legal.

Also, in 2010 the State of Michigan did do a cost-share program on certification fees (can't swear by what they've got planned for 2011, though.) If I recall correctly, information on cost-share (which is a "reimbursement" - not a "disbursement" - program) is available through the MDA (Michigan Department of Agriculture) website.

Hope this helps!
Martha (Dindoffer) Dopkowski +X+ 

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