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Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP)

Grants to USA Organic Producers and Handlers
to Reimburse Organic Certification Costs

Agency Type:

Federal

Funding Source:

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United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Farm Service Agency (FSA)

Deadline Date:

10/31/18 11:59 PM ET

Description:

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Grants of up to $750 to USA and territories organic farmers and handlers to defray costs associated with organic certification. Qualifying producers may request reimbursement on paid certification costs from their state agency. Categories eligible for reimbursement include organic certification of livestock, crops, and wild crops, as well as state program and handling fees.

Eligible costs include application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement/arrangement requirements, travel/per diem for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage.

FSA accepted applications from States interested in overseeing reimbursements to their producers and handlers. In addition, all producers and handlers will have access to OCCSP through their local FSA offices. In States where State agencies provide cost share funds, producers and handlers can choose between the State agencies or the local FSA office. In addition to expanding to FSA local offices for FY 2017, OCCSP will now cover costs related to State organic program fees.

Certified operations will be subject to the same eligibility criteria and calculation of cost share payments regardless of whether they apply for OCCSP through an FSA local office or a participating State agency. Certified operations may only receive OCCSP payment for the same scope for the same year from one source: Either the State agency or FSA. FSA will coordinate with participating State agencies to ensure there are no duplicate payments. If a duplicate payment is inadvertently made, then FSA will inform the participant and require that funds be returned to CCC.

Availability of Funds:

Funding for OCCSP is provided through two authorizations: National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (National OCCSP) funds and Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) funds. Section 10004 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill, Pub. L. 113–79) amended section 10606(d) of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (7 U.S.C. 6523(d)), authorizing $11.5 million from CCC to be used for National OCCSP funds for each of FYs 2014 through 2018, to remain available until expended. National OCCSP funds will be used for cost share payments to certified operations in the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The USDA organic regulations recognize four separate categories, or ‘‘scopes,’’ that must be individually inspected for organic certification: Crops, livestock, wild crops, and handling (that is, processing). A single operation may be certified under multiple scopes. For example, a certified organic vegetable farm that also has certified organic chickens and produces certified organic jams would be required to be certified for three scopes: Crops, livestock, and handling. Beginning in FY 2017, State organic program fees will also be eligible for cost share reimbursement and for OCCSP purposes will be considered an additional separate scope. State organic program fees may be required by States that have established a State organic program according to 7 CFR 205.620– 205.622, and are in addition to the costs of organic certification under the four scopes of USDA organic certification.

National OCCSP funds can be used to provide cost share for all four scopes of USDA organic certification (that is, crops, wild crops, livestock, and handling) and the additional scope of State organic program fees.

In addition to the National OCCSP funds, Section 1609 of the 2014 Farm Bill made a minor technical correction to the AMA authorizing language codified at 7 U.S.C. 1524, but did not change the amount authorized, which is $1 million. The availability of the AMA funds for OCCSP is contingent upon appropriations; the AMA funds are available for FY 2017. AMA funds may be used only for cost share payments for organic certification for the three scopes of crops, wild crops, and livestock, and are specifically targeted to the following 16 States:

-Connecticut
-Delaware
-Hawaii
-Maryland
-Massachusetts
-Maine
-Nevada
-New Hampshire
-New Jersey
-New York
-Pennsylvania
-Rhode Island
-Utah
-Vermont
-West Virginia
-Wyoming

Sequestration will apply to the total amount of funding available for OCCSP for FYs 2017 and 2018, if required by law.

Cost Share Payments:

As required by law (7 U.S.C. 6523(b)), the cost share payments cannot exceed 75 percent of eligible costs incurred, up to a maximum of $750 for each producer or handler. FSA will calculate 75 percent of the allowable costs incurred by an eligible operation, not to exceed a maximum of $750 per certification scope. Cost share assistance will be provided for allowable costs paid by the eligible operation during the same FY for which the OCCSP payment is being requested.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 145836

Estimated Size of Grant:

The maximum per certification scope (crops, livestock, wild crops, handling or state program fees) is $750.

Term of Contract:

Certified operations may receive reimbursement on costs paid during October 1, 2017, through September 30, 2018.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

To be eligible for OCCSP payments, a producer or handler must both:
-Possess USDA organic certification at the time of application; and
-Have paid fees or expenses related to its initial certification or renewal of its certification from a certifying agent.

Operations with suspended, revoked, or withdrawn certifications at the time of application are ineligible for cost share reimbursement. OCCSP is open to producers and handlers in the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Unallowable costs include:
-Inspections due to violations of USDA organic regulations or violations of State organic program requirements;
-Costs related to non-USDA organic certifications;
-Costs associated with or incidental to transitional certification;
-Costs related to any other labeling program;
-Materials, supplies, and equipment;
-Late fees;
-Membership fees; and
-Consultant fees.

State Agencies:

State agencies must have an agreement in place to participate in OCCSP. State agencies with funds remaining from an agreement from a previous FY may continue to administer OCCSP with those funds under the terms of their existing agreement. In the previous NOFA, State agencies were notified that they must complete an Application for Federal Assistance (Standard Form 424), and enter into a grant agreement with FSA to receive new fund allocations to provide cost share assistance for FY 2017.

Agreements for FY 2017 will include provisions to allow modification of the agreement to also cover a period of performance for FY 2018. At this time, FSA has not determined whether an additional application period will be announced for FY 2018 for State agencies that do not establish an agreement to administer OCCSP for FY 2017.

Pre-Application Information:

The dates for FSA county offices to accept applications for OCCSP payments from producers and handlers for FY 2017 started on March 27, 2017, and ends on October 31, 2017, and for FY 2018, starts on October 1, 2017, and ends on October 31, 2018.

Cost share assistance will be provided on a first come, first served basis, until all available funds are obligated for each FY. Applications received after all funds are obligated will not be paid.

State agencies that have submitted applications for FY 2017 do not need to resubmit their applications. All grant agreements between FSA and State agencies for FY 2017 will include revised terms and conditions consistent with the clarification in this NOFA that cost-share assistance will not be made available for transitional certification.

Participating State agencies will establish their own application process and deadlines for producers and handlers.

Once certified, organic producers and handlers are eligible to receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of certification costs.

You may apply to a participating state agency according to their deadlines, or you may apply directly to one of over 2,100 FSA offices.

This fact sheet (attached below) is provided for informational purposes only; other eligibility requirements may apply. For more information, visit the following web page or contact your local FSA county office:
https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/outreach-and-education/help-for-organic-farming/index

The FSA OCCSP application form is available at USDA's eForms site, by selecting "Browse forms" and entering "OCCSP" in the "title or keywords" field on the search page:
https://forms.sc.egov.usda.gov/eForms/welcomeAction.do?Home

Stakeholder Information:
https://www.fsa.usda.gov/news-room/stakeholder-information/stakeholder_info_occsp_20170419_01

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Find an FSA county office near you with the Service Center Locator:
http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app

For further information, contact:

Steve Peterson
(202) 720–7641
Steve.Peterson@ars.usda.gov

CFDA Number:

10.171

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)