Local Food Network of Northern Nevada: Organic Farmer Fee Increase Hurts Small Local Farms


Dear Local Food Supporters (if you got this message already, send it to a foodie friend!),

Third time’s a charm, right?  You helped Nevada’s Organic Certification Program survive twice before, and now I am writing you to ask for your help once again to support our local organic farmers by proposing a fair fee schedule for the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDOA)’s Organic Certification Program.

Why?  It turns out that the proposed fee increase will discourage new organic farmers and make it really hard for our existing small farmers, such as Salisha’s Delicious, Churchill-Butte Organics, and Custom Gardens, to justify these fees while keeping fair prices for the wonderful organically grown produce that we enjoy.

As an example, the past fee schedule cost a farmer or producer with a gross income of $20,000 to $25,000 a total of $125 yearly ($50 yearly application, $75 based on income range).   With the proposed new fee schedule, that same farmer now has to pay $600 a year — that’s a 480% increase, yikes!!!  Another way to look at it is that 2.4% of their income will go toward certification. To contrast, a farmer/producer making $500,000+ had a fee of $2,550 ($50 yearly application, $2,500 based on income) and this fee will go up 157% ($4,050 yearly), which equates to only 0.8% of their yearly income. This new fee schedule is based on the cost of running the program to-date, a $52,000 budget total (see attached file of notice and proposed fee schedule).

While we fully support a self-sustaining, locally administered Organic Certification Program that is not subject to yearly budget fluctuations from the General Fund, we recommend a fee structure that is fair for beginning and low-income farmers.  Additionally, the proposed fee schedule as put forth will no doubt discourage beginning farmers from pursuing certification, let alone be detrimental to the long-term sustainable income for the program: no new farmers means no new certifications, nor farmers moving up the ladder as they get established and increase their gross income.

Please send a note today to the following staff at NDOA: s_marty@agri.nv.gov, jrbarbee@agri.nv.gov, rafferty@agri.nv.gov, efoster@agri.nv.gov with the following message (feel free to cut and paste):

Title: Response to Notice of Intent to Act Upon a Regulation LCB File No. R087-11

Message:  The fee schedule proposed in the Notice of Intent to Act Upon a Regulation LCB File No. R087-11 is certain to cause the loss of many existing Nevada Small Organic Farmers and Producers due to unfair distribution of fees, and will deter any new farmer/producer from pursuing an organic certification. I reject the fee schedule as put forth, and propose a fairly distributed fee schedule across the income range that allows the small farmer to continue the organic certification program.

[please insert any additional comments you may have, and of course your name]

Alternately, you can join the public hearing in person on Monday, December 5th, 11 am at the NDOA office, 405 S. 21st Street in Sparks (Phone 353-3601).  We’d love to fill the room!

Thank you so much for your support of our organic food future, a vital part of our local food movement!


Jana Vanderhaar

Local Food Network


Related documents for your reference:

  • http://bit.ly/organic-certification-proposed-fee-schedule-2011
  • http://bit.ly/organic-certification-amendment-hearing-dec-05-2011