The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended the application deadline for the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP) to February 4, 2022. OTECP offers certification cost share, support for transitional producers, and reimbursement for educational expenses and soil testing expenses. Apply soon, because if funds run low, payment levels may be reduced.
OTECP is funded through USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers Program; $20 million has been authorized for the program.
There are some important differences between this program and the usual Organic Certification Cost Share program. Please review this information carefully.
• Certification cost share: Twenty-five percent of eligible certification-related expenses paid during the 2020 and 2021 fiscal years up to a maximum of $250 per scope.
o Certified organic operations in California may also apply for reimbursement of 25 percent of State Organic Program registration fees.
• Support to transitional producers: Crop and livestock operations transitioning to organic production may be eligible for 75 percent of the operation’s eligible expenses, up to $750 for each year. This includes fees charged by a certifying agent or consultant for pre-certification inspections and development of an Organic System Plan.
• Reimbursement for organic educational activities: To assist operations in increasing the production and marketing knowledge that can improve their operations, increase resilience, and expand marketing opportunities, OTECP covers 75 percent of the registration fees, up to $200 per year, for both certified and transitional operations participating in for educational events that include organic production and handling content.
• Reimbursement of costs for soil testing to verify micronutrient deficiencies: Both certified and transitional operations may be eligible for 75 percent of the expense of soil testing required under the National Organic Program (NOP) to document micronutrient deficiency, not to exceed $100 per year.
A second round of funding is likely to be offered later this year to cover expenses from fiscal year 2022. CCOF will notify the community when those funds are available.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE
• Be either a certified operation or a crop or livestock transitional operation at the time of application. Operations with suspended, revoked, denied, or withdrawn USDA organic certifications at the time of application are ineligible for OTECP. You will need to provide a copy of your organic certificate when you apply.
• Have paid eligible expenses during fiscal years 2020 and/or 2021. Expenses paid before October 1, 2019, will not be eligible for OTECP. Similarly, expenses that have been incurred by the applicant but have not yet been paid will not be eligible.
• Log in to My CCOF to download a copy of your organic certificate.
• CCOF can provide you with a statement of your eligible certification-related expenses for reference. To request a statement, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• While the OTECP application does not include documentation of your expenses, applicants may be required to provide additional documentation to FSA, if necessary, to verify eligibility or issue payment.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
• You are encouraged to contact the FSA office at your local USDA Service Center with any questions about OTECP, program eligibility, or the application process. You may also call (877) 508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to provide one-on-one assistance.
• The following web page provides additional information and links to all forms: https://www.farmers.gov/pandemic-assistance/otecp#apply.
• If you still have questions, please contact CCOF at email@example.com.