USDA builds support for organic operations

Published 3:20 pm Tuesday, November 9, 2021

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.

Signup for 2020 and 2021 OTECP began Monday, Nov. 8, and will continue 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.

OTECP funding is provided through the CARES Act. Certified operations and transitional operations may apply 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 and inspection fees, USDA organic certification costs, etc.

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 for certifying agents or consultants for pre-certification inspections, and development of an organic system plan.

To learn more about USDA’s assistance for organic producers, visit usda.gov/organic. For additional information, contact the Lincoln-Franklin County FSA Office at 601-833-9321 ext. 2.