LINCOLN – Agriculture producers and handlers who have organic certification and other related expenses are encouraged to apply for the USDA programs.
According to a release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), those eligible include ag producers and handlers who are certified organic or are transitioning to organic production.
The USDA Organic and Transitional Education Certification Program (OTECP) and Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP) will help producers and handlers cover the cost of organic certification along with other related expenses.
Applications for OTECP and OCCSP are both due October 31, 2022.
Farm Service Agency Nebraska State Executive Director John Berge said, “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. We launched the Organic and Transitional Education 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 Nebraska producers to work with their local USDA Service Centers to complete the applications. We’re committed to making sure our organic producers and handlers have the tools they need to continue positively shaping our local and regional food systems.”
The USDA Organic and Transitional Education Certification Program will cover 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) and soil testing (75% up to $100).
Meanwhile, the Organic Certification Cost Share Program covers 50% or up to $500 per category of certification costs in 2022. 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, 2022 to file applications, and FSA will make payments as applications are received.
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.
To learn more, visit usda.gov.