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USDA Announces OTECP Program for 2022

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on May 16, 2022 that it will provide pandemic assistance to cover certification and education expenses to agricultural producers who are certified organic or transitioning to organic. USDA will make $20 million available through the new Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP) as part of USDA’s broader Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative, which provides new, broader and more equitable opportunities for farmers, ranchers and producers. This funding restores the cost share to its previous levels of 75% up to $750 per production scope


“By helping with organic certification costs – long identified as a barrier to certification – USDA has helped producers participate in new markets while investing in the long-term health of their operations,” said Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “We launched the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program to build on the support offered through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program and provide additional assistance to organic and transitioning producers weathering the continued market impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, in response to stakeholder feedback, we have aligned the signup dates for these two organic programs and encourage producers to work with the local USDA Service Centers and State agencies to complete the applications. The FSA, and the USDA broadly, are committed to making sure our Nation’s organic producers and handlers have the tools they need to continue positively shaping our local and regional food systems.”

Organic Cost Share for 2022 

Annual reimbursement through the OCCSP (Organic Certification Cost Share Program) will continue to be administered by MCS in conjunction with the state of Maine at the 50% level for 2022. MOFGA Certified Producers must have a valid W-9 vendor form on file with the state to receive these funds. Additional information and the W-9 form can be found here

The OTECP covers:

  • Certification costs for organic producers and handlers (25% up to $250 per category).
  • Eligible expenses for transitional producers, including fees for pre-certification inspections and development of an organic system plan (75% up to $750).
  • Registration fees for educational events (75% up to $200).
  • Soil testing (75% up to $100).

This cost share for certification is available for each of these categories: crops, wild crops, livestock, processing/handling and State organic program fees.

Producers can receive cost share through OTECP for costs incurred from October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022.  Producers have until October 31, 2022 to file applications, and FSA will make payments as applications are received.

How to Apply for OTECP Funding

To apply, producers and handlers should contact the Farm Service Agency (FSA) at their local USDA Service Center. As part of completing the OCCSP applications, producers and handlers will need to provide documentation of their organic certification and eligible expenses. Organic producers and handlers may also apply for OCCSP through participating State agencies.

Additional details can be found on the OTECP webpages.  

Please note: the OTECP program is outside of the normal cost share process, therefore MCS will NOT be working with the Maine Department of Agriculture to administer for producers. Please contact MCS if you require verification of certification fees paid in 2021 and 2022. Producers have until October 31, 2022 to file applications, and FSA will make payments as applications are received.  Producers must apply through their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office and can also obtain one-on-one support with applications by calling 877-508-8364. Visit farmers.gov/otecp to learn more and find an FSA office close to you.
Please contact the MCS office in the event you have any questions about this program.