USDA: Accepting Applications to Help Organic Certifications

USDA: Accepting Applications to Help Organic Certifications

Producers and handlers who are certified organic or who are transitioning to organic production can now apply for the USDA’s Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program and Organic Certification Cost Share Program, which help producers and handlers cover the cost of organic certification, along with other related expenses. Applications for OTECP and OCCSP are both due Oct. 31, according to the USDA.

“By helping with organic certification costs – long identified as a barrier to certification – USDA has helped producers participate in new markets while investing in the long-term health of their operations,” Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux said in a news release. “We launched the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program to build on the support offered through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program and provide additional assistance to organic and transitioning producers weathering the continued market impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, in response to stakeholder feedback, we have aligned the signup dates for these two organic programs and encourage producers to work with the local USDA Service Centers and State agencies to complete the applications. The FSA, and the USDA broadly, are committed to making sure our Nation’s organic producers and handlers have the tools they need to continue positively shaping our local and regional food systems.” 

Cost Share for 2022 

OTECP covers: 

  • Certification costs for organic producers and handlers (25% up to $250 per category).
  • Eligible expenses for transitional producers, including fees for pre-certification inspections and development of an organic system plan (75% up to $750).
  • Registration fees for educational events (75% up to $200).
  • Soil testing (75% up to $100). 

Meanwhile, OCCSP covers 50% or up to $500 per category of certification costs in 2022, the USDA said.

This cost-share for certification is available for each of these categories: crops, wild crops, livestock, processing/handling and state organic program fees. 
Producers can receive cost-share through both OTECP and OCCSP. Both OTECP and OCCSP cover costs incurred from October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022. Producers have until October 31 this year to file applications, and FSA will make payments as applications are received. 

How to Apply 

To apply, producers and handlers should contact the Farm Service Agency (FSA) at their local USDA Service Center. As part of completing the OCCSP applications, producers and handlers will need to provide documentation of their organic certification and eligible expenses. Organic producers and handlers may also apply for OCCSP through participating State agencies. 
Additional details can be found on the OTECP and OCCSP webpages. 

Source: thepacker.com

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