Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to provide up to $200 million in assistance for specialty crop producers who incur eligible on-farm food safety program expenses to obtain or renew a food safety certification in calendar years 2022 or 2023. USDA’s new Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops (FSCSC) program will help to offset costs for specialty crop producers to comply with regulatory requirements 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 producers and a more balanced, equitable economy for everyone working in food and agriculture.
Specialty crop operations can apply for assistance for eligible expenses related to a 2022 food safety certificate issued on or after June 21, 2022, beginning June 27, 2022. USDA is delivering FSCSC to provide critical assistance for specialty crop operations, 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, N.H., where he toured a local, family-owned farm and highlighted USDA’s efforts to help reduce costs for farmers and support local economies by providing significant funding to cut regulatory costs and increase market opportunities for farmers in New Hampshire and across the nation.
“The ongoing economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic have created substantial 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 producers, many of whom needed to quickly and completely pivot their operations as demand shifted away from traditional markets, like restaurants and food service. As we build back better, our food systems must be both more inclusive and more competitive. By helping mitigate the costs of on-farm food safety certification, the FSCSC program will support fair, transparent food systems rooted in local and regional production and provide small-scale producers a real opportunity to bring home a greater share of the food dollar and help create jobs.”
Applying for Assistance
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 issue payments at the time of application approval for 2022 and after the application period ends for 2023. If calculated payments exceed the amount of available funding, payments will be prorated.
Interested specialty crop producers can apply by completing the FSA-888, Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops Program (FSCSC) application. Producers can go here for additional program details, eligibility information and forms needed to apply.
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