USDA is awarding $200 million through the Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops program to help small-scale agricultural operations.

The program opened for signup in 2022 to help specialty crop operations cover some of the costs incurred by complying with certain food safety certification requirements. The Farm Service Agency says it is emphasizing "equity in program delivery while building on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions."  

“The FSCSC program will help create new markets and opportunities for small-scale producers,” FSA administrator Zach Ducheneaux said. “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.” 

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Specialty crop operations classified as small or very small businesses may receive assistance for an array of costs: 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 and training. 

Applications for expenses incurred between June 21 and Dec. 31, 2022, must be submitted by Jan. 31. The 2023 program will begin accepting applications on Feb. 1 and close on Jan. 31, 2024. 

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