From Gabi Grunstein, County Executive Director for Monmouth, Mercer and Middlesex Counties, New Jersey Communications Coordinator:

Are you a producer or handler of agricultural commodities that are certified organic? Or, are you transitioning your operation to certified organic? You may be eligible for financial assistance to cover expenses paid during the 2020, 2021, and 2022 fiscal years through USDA’s Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP). This new program is part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. For more information please see USDA Page.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency will accept OTECP applications for fiscal years 2020 and 2021 from November 8, 2021, through January 7, 2022. The application period for fiscal year 2022 applications will be announced at a later date.  

How the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program Works

During the COVID-19 pandemic, certified organic and transitional operations faced loss of markets, increased costs, labor shortages, and expenses related to obtaining or renewing their organic certification. Transitional operations also faced the financial challenge of implementing practices required to obtain organic certification without the premium prices associated with certified organic commodities.

OTECP provides up to $20 million to reimburse agricultural producers and handlers who are certified organic and crop and livestock producers who are transitioning to organic for eligible expenses incurred during fiscal years 2020, 2021, and/or 2022. The date ranges for these time periods are:

  • Fiscal Year 2020: October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2020
  • Fiscal Year 2021: October 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021
  • Fiscal Year 2022: October 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022