USDA builds pandemic support for certified organic and transitioning operations
Published 1:55 pm Wednesday, November 10, 2021
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide pandemic assistance to cover certification and education expenses to agricultural producers who are certified organic or transitioning to organic. Signup for 2020 and 2021 OTECP will be Nov. 8, 2021, through Jan. 7, 2022.
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.
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OTECP funding is provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES 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% 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% 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.
For both certified operations and transitional operations, OTECP covers 75% of the registration fees, up to $200, per year, for educational events that include content related to organic production and handling in order to assist operations in increasing their knowledge of production and marketing practices that can improve their operations, increase resilience and expand available marketing opportunities. Additionally, both certified and transitional operations may be eligible for 75% of the expense of soil testing required under the National Organic Program (NOP) to document micronutrient deficiency, not to exceed $100 per year.
To learn more about USDA’s assistance for organic producers, visit usda.gov/organic.
For additional information contact the Jefferson Davis/Lawrence County FSA Office at 601-833-9321, Ext. 2, or come by THE office located at 714 Columbia Ave in Prentiss.