Assistance Available for On-farm Food Safety Expenses
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops program will provide specialty crop producers with financial assistance for on-farm food safety program expenses incurred in 2022 or 2023. The 2022 application period is June 27, 2022 through January 31, 2023. The 2023 application dates will be announced in the future.
Under this new program, specialty crop growers can apply for assistance for eligible expenses to obtain or renew a food safety certification issued on or after June 21, 2022. The FSCSC will cover a percentage of the specialty crop operation’s food safety certification costs, as well as a portion of related expenses including:
- Developing a food safety plan for first-time certification
- Maintaining or updating an existing food safety plan
- Food safety certification
- Certification upload fees
- Microbiological testing for products, soil amendments and water
- Food safety training
Payments are calculated separately for each category noted above.
Applicants must be specialty crop operations and meet the definition of a small or very small business to be eligible for the program and have paid eligible expenses on or after June 21, 2022. A small business is defined as reporting an average annual monetary value of specialty crops sold in the preceding three years between $250,000 - $500,000. A very small business would have reported an average annual monetary specialty crop value during the three previous years of no more than $250,000.
To apply for the program, producers must complete the FSA-888, Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops Program application and other relevant documents. The application documents can be submitted online, or printed and mailed/delivered in person to a local FSA office or USDA Service Center.
The program is part of the USDA’s effort to reduce costs for farmers associated with regulatory costs, especially in light of the costs incurred by growers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Complete information concerning the program can be found online at: https://www.farmers.gov/pandemic-assistance/food-safety.