Last week the USDA announced a new pandemic assistance funded by the CARES Act that will help cover expenses for organic and transitional operations. Operations may apply for reimbursement of eligible expenses paid during the 2020, 2021, and 2022 fiscal years. The sign up period for 2020 and 2021 Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP) opened today (November 8, 2021) and runs through January 7, 2022. The application period for 2022 will be announced at a later date.
How to apply
- You are encouraged to apply through your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. Find your local service center here.
- If you have an eAuthentication account, you may apply online via this OTECP portal.
- You can also reach one-on-one support with applications by calling 877-508-8364.
The OTECP website contains links for the three (2 pages each) forms that must be included as a part of the application. FSA may request additional documentation to verify eligibility, or to issue payment.
In order to be eligible, an operation must have paid eligible expenses during the applicable fiscal year, and must be either a currently certified operation or a (crops or livestock) transitional operation.
- Certified organic operations may receive 25% (up to $250) per certification scope (crops, livestock, wild crops, and handling).
- Transitioning crops and livestock operations are eligible to receive up to 75% of expenses (or $750).
- Both certified organic operations and transitional operations are eligible for reimbursement of 75% (or up to $200) for educational events.
- Both certified organic operations and transitional operations may also be eligible for 75% (up to $100) of the expense of soil testing required to document micronutrient deficiency.
Eligible expenses include: Application fees, inspection fees, USDA organic certification costs, transitional verification fees, state organic program fees, fees for educational programs, and soil testing expenses.
Note: The new OTECP assistance is in addition to the USDA’s existing “Cost Share” program (or OCCSP), which currently provides cost share of 50% (up to $500) per scope. This means you may apply for the additional funding, even if you already applied for reimbursement through the Cost Share program.