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Pandemic Assistance Offered for Organic Producers

Brian German Agri-Business, Funding

Organic producers can seek support being offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) comprehensive Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. USDA is providing assistance for certification and educational expenses for producers that are certified organic or transitioning to organic. A total of $20 million in funding support is being made available through the new Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP).

Organic Producers

“Producers and handlers of organic commodities incur significant costs to obtain or renew organic certification each year,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release. “The economic challenges that arose due to the pandemic made obtaining and renewing organic certification financially challenging for many operations. This is one more instance of USDA continuing to provide support for those who need it most, invest in the food supply chain and Build Back Better.”   

Funding for the new program is made possible by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. OTECP will cover 25 percent of a certified organic operation’s eligible expenses paid during the fiscal years of 2020, 2021, and 2022. Up to $250 will be provided per certification category that includes crop, livestock, wild crop, handling, and State Organic Program fees. The funding support will cover costs including application fees, inspection fees, and state and federal organic program and certification fees.

OTECP will cover 75 percent of eligible expenses for crop and livestock operations transitioning to organic up to $750 per year. Certified and transitional operations may also be eligible for funding assistance related to soil testing expenses required under the National Organic Program. Eligible producers could receive 75 percent of those expenses, up to $100 for each year. OTECP will also cover 75 percent of eligible registration fees for educational events up to $200 per year.

The signup period for 2020 and 2021 OTECP will remain open until January 7, 2022. Organic producers can submit applications through local Farm Service Agency offices.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West