USDA builds pandemic support for certified organic and transitioning operations – Fence Post

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Division of Agriculture will present pandemic help to cowl certification and schooling bills to agricultural producers who’re licensed natural or transitioning to natural. USDA will make $20 million obtainable by way of the brand new Natural and Transitional Training and Certification Program (OTECP) as a part of USDA’s broader Pandemic Help for Producers initiative, which offers new, broader and extra equitable alternatives for farmers, ranchers and producers.
In the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, licensed natural and transitional operations confronted challenges because of lack of markets, and elevated prices and labor shortages, along with prices associated to acquiring or renewing their natural certification, which producers and handlers of conventionally grown commodities don’t incur. Transitional operations additionally confronted the monetary problem of implementing practices required to acquire natural certification with out having the ability to acquire the premium costs usually acquired for licensed natural commodities.
“Producers and handlers of natural commodities incur vital prices to acquire or renew natural certification annually,” stated Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The financial challenges that arose because of the pandemic made acquiring and renewing natural certification financially difficult for a lot of operations. That is another occasion of USDA persevering with to supply assist for individuals who want it most, spend money on the meals provide chain and Construct Again Higher.”

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ELIGIBLE EXPENSES
OTECP funding is supplied by way of the Coronavirus Help, Aid, and Financial Safety Act (CARES Act). Licensed operations and transitional operations could apply for OTECP for eligible bills paid in the course of the 2020, 2021 and 2022 fiscal years. For annually, OTECP covers 25% of a licensed operation’s eligible certification bills, as much as $250 per certification class (crop, livestock, wild crop, dealing with and State Natural Program payment). This contains utility charges, inspection charges, USDA natural certification prices, state natural program charges and extra.

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Crop and livestock operations transitioning to natural manufacturing could also be eligible for 75% of a transitional operation’s eligible bills, as much as $750, for annually. This contains charges charged by a certifying agent or marketing consultant for pre-certification inspections and growth of an natural system plan.
For each licensed operations and transitional operations, OTECP covers 75% of the registration charges, as much as $200, per yr, for academic occasions that embrace content material associated to natural manufacturing and dealing with with a view to help operations in growing their data of manufacturing and advertising practices that may enhance their operations, enhance resilience and develop obtainable advertising alternatives. Moreover, each licensed and transitional operations could also be eligible for 75% of the expense of soil testing required underneath the Nationwide Natural Program to doc micronutrient deficiency, to not exceed $100 per yr.
APPLYING FOR ASSISTANCE
Signup for 2020 and 2021 OTECP can be Nov. 8, 2021, by way of Jan. 7, 2022. Producers apply by way of their native Farm Service Company workplace and also can acquire one-on-one assist with purposes by calling (877) 508-8364. Go to farmers.gov/otecp to be taught extra.
OTECP builds upon USDA’s Natural Certification Price Share Program (OCCSP) which offers price share help of fifty%, as much as a most of $500 per scope, to producers and handlers of agricultural merchandise who’re acquiring or renewing their certification underneath the NOP. This yr’s utility interval for OCCSP ended Nov. 1, 2021.
Moreover, USDA’s Danger Administration Company introduced enhancements to the Complete-Farm Income Program together with growing enlargement limits for natural producers to the upper of $500,000 or 35%. Beforehand, small and medium dimension natural operations had been held to the identical 35% restrict to enlargement as typical follow producers. Additionally, producers can now report acreage as licensed natural, or as acreage in transition to natural, when the producer has requested an natural certification by the acreage reporting date.
To be taught extra about USDA’s help for natural producers, go to usda.gov/natural.

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As USDA seems for long-term options to construct again a greater meals system, the division is dedicated to supply of monetary help to farmers, ranchers and agricultural producers and companies who’ve been impacted by COVID-19 market disruptions. Since USDA rolled out the Pandemic Help for Producers initiative in March, the division has supplied assist to America’s farmers and ranchers together with:
$18 billion in Coronavirus Meals Help Program 2 funds, together with a fourfold enhance in participation by traditionally underserved producers for the reason that program reopened in April 2021.
Over $35 million in help for individuals who needed to depopulate livestock and poultry because of inadequate processing entry (Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program).
Over $7 million thus far for the logging and log hauling trade (Pandemic Help for Timber Harvesters and Haulers). Remaining funds are being calculated to be disbursed quickly.
$1 billion to buy wholesome meals for meals insecure Individuals and construct meals financial institution capability.
$350 million in extra dairy help associated to market volatility.
$500 million deployed by way of current USDA packages.
For extra particulars, please go to http://www.farmers.gov/pandemic-assistance.
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Source : Organic and transitioning

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