HOLLIS, NEW HAMPSHIRE, JUNE 17, 2022 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to provide up to $200 million in assistance to specialty crop growers who incur eligible expenses under the of the on-farm food safety program to obtain or renew food safety certification in calendar years 2022 or 2023. The new Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops (FSCSC) will help offset the costs for specialty crop growers to comply with regulatory requirements and market-driven food safety certification requirements, which is part of the USDA’s broader effort to transform the food system to create a more level playing field for small and medium enterprises. producers and a more balanced and equitable economy for all those working in food and agriculture.
Special crops operations may apply for assistance with eligible expenses related to a 2022 food safety certificate issued on or after June 21, 2022, beginning June 27, 2022. The USDA provides FSCSC to provide essential assistance to special crops operations. special crops, with an emphasis on equity. in program delivery while 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 help reduce costs for farmers and support local economies by providing significant funding to reduce regulatory costs and increase market opportunities for New Hampshire farmers. and across the country.
“The current economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic have created significant financial challenges for small and very small producers to meet regulatory requirements and access additional markets,” Vilsack said. “These challenges were particularly acute for specialty crop growers, many of whom needed to quickly and completely pivot their operations as demand shifted away from traditional markets, such as restaurants and foodservice. As we build back better, our food systems must be both more inclusive and more competitive. By helping to mitigate the costs of on-farm food safety certification, the FSCSC program will support fair and transparent food systems rooted in local and regional production and provide small-scale producers with a real opportunity to take home more large share of the food dollar and help create jobs. »
The FSCSC will assist specialty crop operations that have incurred eligible on-farm food safety certification and related expenses related to obtaining or renewing food safety certification in calendar years 2022 and 2023. For each year, the FSCSC covers a percentage of the cost of obtaining the specialty crop operation. or renew their certification, as well as part of their related expenses.
To be eligible for the FSCSC, the applicant must be a specialty crop operation; meet the definition of a small business or a very small business; and have paid eligible expenses related to certification 2022 (issued on or after June 21, 2022) or 2023.
Specialty crop operations may receive assistance for the following costs:
- Development of a food safety plan for the first food safety certification.
- Maintain or update an existing food safety plan.
- Food safety certificate.
- Certification download fee.
- Microbiological analyzes of products, soil and water amendments.
FSCSC payments are calculated separately for each category of eligible costs. A higher payment rate has been set for socially disadvantaged, resource-constrained, new and experienced farmers and herders. Details of payout rates and limits can be found at farmers.gov/food-safety.
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The FSCSC application period for 2022 is June 27, 2022 to January 31, 2023, and the application period for 2023 will be announced at a later date. The FSA will issue payments at the time of application approval for 2022 and after the end of the application period for 2023. If the calculated payments exceed the amount of funding available, the payments will be pro-rated.
Interested specialty crop growers can apply by completing Form FSA-888, Food Safety Certification Program for Specialty Crops (FSCSC). The application, along with other required documents, can be submitted to the FSA office at any USDA service center nationwide by mail, fax, hand delivery, or electronically. Producers can visit farmers.gov/service-locator to find their local FSA office. Specialty crop growers can also call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to help.
Producers can visit farmers.gov/food-safety for program details, eligibility information, and forms needed to apply.
The USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming the US food system with greater emphasis on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe food, healthy and nutritious in all communities, creating new markets and income streams for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in clean energy infrastructure and capacity in the rural America, and committing to equity across the department by removing systemic barriers and creating a workforce that is more representative of America. To learn more, visit usda.gov.
The USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.