Aid for organic growers available

Staff Writer

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide pandemic assistance to cover certification and education expenses to agricultural producers who are certified organic or transitioning to organic.
The USDA will make $20 million available through the new Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program as part of the department’s broader Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative, which provides new, broader and more equitable opportunities for farmers, ranchers and producers.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, certified organic and transitional operations faced challenges due to loss of markets, and increased costs and labor shortages, in addition to costs related to obtaining or renewing their organic certification, which producers and handlers of conventionally grown commodities do not incur.
Transitional operations also faced the financial challenge of implementing practices required to obtain organic certification without being able to obtain the premium prices normally received for certified organic commodities.
OTECP funding is provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Certified operations and transitional operations may apply for OTECP for eligible expenses paid during the 2020, 2021 and 2022 fiscal years. For each year, OTECP covers 25 percent of a certified operation’s eligible certification expenses, up to $250 per certification category (crop, livestock, wild crop, handling and State Organic Program fee). This includes application fees, inspection fees, USDA organic certification costs, state organic program fees and more.
Crop and livestock operations transitioning to organic production may be eligible for 75 percent of a transitional operation’s eligible expenses, up to $750, for each year. This includes fees charged by a certifying agent or consultant for pre-certification inspections and development of an organic system plan.
Signup for 2020 and 2021 OTECP will run through Jan. 7, 2022. Producers apply through their local Farm Service Agency office and can also obtain one-on-one support with applications by calling 877-508-8364. Visit to learn more.


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