USDA Announces Aid for On-Farm Food Safety Costs for Specialty Crop Growers

HOLLIS, NEW HAMPSHIRE, JUNE 17, 2022 — Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to provide up to $200 million in aid to specialty crop producers who need to make eligible expenses for on-farm food safety programs to achieve a ​​obtain or renew food safety certification in calendar years 2022 or 2023. USDAs New Food safety certification for specialty crops (FSCSC) program will help offset costs for specialty crop producers to meet regulatory and market-driven food safety certification requirements, which is part of USDA’s broader effort to transform the food system to create a more level playing field for small and medium-sized producers and a more balanced, equitable economy for everyone working in the food and agriculture sector.

Specialty Crops may apply for support for eligible expenses related to a 2022 Food Safety Certificate issued on or after June 21, 2022, beginning June 27, 2022. USDA provides FSCSC to provide critical assistance for specialty crops, with an emphasis on proprietary capability in program delivery, building on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions. Vilsack made the announcement from Hollis, NH, where he visited a local family farm and highlighted USDA’s efforts to reduce costs for farmers and support local economies by providing significant funding to lower regulatory costs and open up market opportunities for farmers in New Hampshire and throughout the country.

“The ongoing economic challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have created major financial challenges for small and very small producers to meet regulatory requirements and access additional markets,” said Vilsack. “These challenges were particularly acute for specialty crop producers, many of whom had to change their operations quickly and completely as demand shifted away from traditional markets such as restaurants and food service. As we scale back better, our food systems need to be both more inclusive and competitive. By helping to reduce the cost of on-farm food safety certification, the FSCSC program will support fair, transparent food systems rooted in local and regional production and give small-scale producers a real opportunity to take home a greater share of the food dollar. take and help create jobs.”

Program details

FSCSC will assist specialty farms that have made eligible on-farm food safety certification and related costs associated with obtaining or renewing a food safety certification in the calendar years 2022 and 2023. For each year, FSCSC will cover a percentage of the cost of obtaining the specialized cultivation or renewing their certification, as well as part of their related expenses.

To be eligible for FSCSC, the applicant must be a specialized crop; meet the definition of a small business or very small business; and have paid eligible expenses related to the certification for 2022 (issued on or after June 21, 2022) or 2023.

Specialized crops can receive support for the following costs:

  • Developing a food safety plan for the first food safety certification.
  • Maintain or update an existing food safety plan.
  • Food safety certification.
  • Upload costs for certification.
  • Microbiological testing of products, soil improvers and water.
  • Education.

FSCSC payments are calculated separately for each category of eligible costs. A higher payment rate has been established for socially disadvantaged, limited resources, novice and experienced farmers and ranchers. Details on payment rates and restrictions can be found at: farmers.gov/foodsafety

Request help

The FSCSC application period for 2022 is June 27, 2022, through January 31, 2023, and the application period for 2023 will be announced at a later date. FSA will make payments upon approval of the 2022 application and after the 2023 application period has ended. If the calculated payments exceed the available amount, payments are made pro rata.

Interested specialty crop producers can apply by completing the FSA-888, Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops Program (FSCSC) application. The application, along with other required documents, may be submitted to the FSA office at any USDA service center nationwide by mail, fax, delivery, or electronic means. Producers can visit farmers.gov/service-locator to find their local FSA office. Specialty crop producers can also call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA representative who is ready to assist.

Producers can visit farmers.gov/foodsafety for additional program details, eligibility information, and forms required to apply.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming the US food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and working for equality across the department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce that more representative of America. For more information, visit usda.gov

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

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