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Signup Open for On-Farm Food Safety Expenses Assistance
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 01/24/2023

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds specialty crop producers of available assistance to help cover certain costs of complying with regulatory and market-driven food safety certification requirements. Applications for the Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops (FSCSC) program for eligible 2022 costs are due by Jan. 31, 2023. USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) will accept applications for 2023 costs from Feb. 1, 2023, to Jan. 31, 2024. FSA is making available up to $200 million through the FSCSC program, which is part of USDA's broader effort to transform the food system to create a more level playing field for small-scale agricultural operations and a more balanced, equitable economy for everyone working in food and agriculture. USDA first announced and opened this program for signup in 2022, delivering 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. "Specialty crops growers experienced many challenges meeting regulatory requirements and accessing additional markets due to the COVID-19 pandemic," said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. "Many of these producers had to pivot quickly as demand shifted away from traditional markets, like restaurants and food service, and many continue to feel the impacts of those abrupt changes. By helping mitigate the costs of on-farm food safety certification, the Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops program will help create new markets and opportunities for small-scale producers. In turn, these producers will have another tool to leverage as they work to become more nimble and more resilient in the face of unforeseen challenges, serve their local and regional economies, and support fairer and more transparent markets."

FSCSC assists specialty crop operations that incurred eligible on-farm food safety certification and expenses related to obtaining or renewing a food safety certification in calendar years 2022 and 2023 for certifications issued on or after June 21, 2022. For each year, FSCSC covers a percentage of the specialty crop operation's eligible costs of obtaining or renewing their certification, as well as a portion of their related expenses. FSA will issue payments at the time of application approval for 2022 and after the application period ends for 2023. The 2023 application period opens Feb. 1, 2023, and closes Jan. 31, 2024. If calculated payments exceed the amount of available funding, payments will be prorated.

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