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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 on-farm food safety program costs to obtain or renew their food safety certification in calendar year 2022 . or 2023. New USDA data Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops (FSCSC) will help offset the cost to specialty crop growers of regulatory compliance and market requirements for food safety certification, as part of a broader USDA effort to transform the food system to create a more level playing field for small and medium-sized businesses. producers and a more balanced, fair economy for all those working in food and agriculture.

Growers of specialty crops may apply for assistance with eligible costs associated with a 2022 Food Safety Certification issued on or after June 21, 2022, effective June 27, 2022. in program delivery, building on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions. Vilsack made this announcement from Hollis, New Hampshire, where he visited a local family farm and spoke about the USDA’s efforts to reduce farm costs and support the local economy by providing significant funding to reduce regulatory costs and expand market opportunities for farmers. in New Hampshire. and throughout the country.

“The ongoing economic challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have created significant financial challenges for small and very small manufacturers in terms of regulatory compliance and access to additional markets,” Vilsack said. “These challenges have been particularly acute for specialty crop producers, many of whom needed to quickly and completely change their operations as demand shifted away from traditional markets such as restaurants and food service. As we recover better, our food systems must be both more inclusive and more competitive. By helping to reduce the cost of on-farm food safety certification, the FSCSC program will support fair, transparent food systems based on local and regional production and provide small producers with a real opportunity to bring home a greater share of the food dollar and help create jobs.”

Program details

FSCSC will assist specialty crop businesses that have incurred appropriate on-farm food safety certification and the associated costs associated with obtaining or renewing food safety certification in calendar years 2022 and 2023. For each year, FSCSC covers a percentage of the cost of producing specialty crops to obtain or renew their certification, as well as a portion of the associated costs.

To be eligible for the FSCSC program, the applicant must be involved in the cultivation of specialty crops; meet the definition of a small business or a very small business; and paid the eligible costs associated with the 2022 certification (issued on or after June 21, 2022) or the 2023 certification.

Specialty crops can receive assistance to cover 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 certification.
  • Fee for downloading certificates.
  • Microbiological testing of products, soil additives and water.
  • Training.

FSCSC fees are calculated separately for each eligible cost category. There is a higher pay rate for socially disadvantaged, resource-constrained, novice and experienced farmers and ranchers. Detailed information about tariffs and payment restrictions can be found at farm.gov/food safety.

Applying for help

The FSCSC application period for 2022 is from June 27, 2022 to January 31, 2023, while the 2023 application period will be announced at a later date. FSA will make payments during the approval of the 2022 application and after the end of the 2023 application period. If the estimated payments exceed the available funding, the payments will be apportioned pro rata.

Interested specialty crop growers can apply by completing the FSA-888, Specialty Crops Food Certification Program (FSCSC). The application, along with other required documents, may be submitted to the FSA office at any USDA Service Center nationwide by mail, fax, in-person delivery, or electronic means. Producers can visit farm.gov/service-locator to find their local FSA office. Specialty crop growers can also call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA staff member who is available to help.

Producers can visit farm.gov/food safety for more information about the program, eligibility information and forms required to apply.

The USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more sustainable local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities, creating new markets and streams. income for farmers and producers using sustainable food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy opportunities in rural America, and committing to equity in the Department by removing systemic barriers and creating a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit usda.gov.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

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