Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP)
Farm Service Agency
Closed October 31, 2022
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.
Program Year 2020 covers expenses paid from October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020 and the application period is November 8, 2021 through February 4, 2022.
Program Year 2021 covers expenses paid from October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021 and the application period is November 8, 2021 through February 4, 2022.
Program Year 2022 covers expenses paid from October 1, 2021, through September 30, 2022 and the application period will begin on May 16, 2022.
To be eligible for OTECP, an applicant must:
Have paid eligible expenses during fiscal year 2022. Expenses paid before October 1, 2019 will not be eligible for OTECP. Similarly, expenses that have been incurred by the applicant, but have not yet been paid, will not be eligible.
Be either a certified operation or a crop or livestock transitional operation at the time of application. Operations with suspended, revoked, denied, or withdrawn USDA organic certifications at the time of application are ineligible for OTECP.
Operations that incurred eligible expenses prior to organic certification but became certified prior to the end of the fiscal year may not receive cost share for the same expense as both a certified and a transitional operation.
Visit farmers.gov/otecp/faq for a list of expenses that are considered ineligible for this program.
All OTECP applicants must report any previous cost share assistance received for the expenses included on their application, excluding payments through USDA’s Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP). The following payment limitations are in place:
For crop, livestock, wild crop, handling, and State organic program fees, the applicant’s OTECP payment plus the reported additional cost share assistance cannot exceed the portion of the expenses not covered by OCCSP. For the 2020, 2021, and 2022 program years, OCCSP covered 50 percent of an applicant’s eligible certification expenses, up to $500 per category.
For transitional expenses, soil testing, and educational event registration fees, the applicant’s OTECP payment plus any additional cost share assistance cannot exceed the total amount of eligible expenses.
FSA will issue payments after the end of the application period for each fiscal year. OTECP payments will be prorated if calculated payments exceed the amount of available funding.
Apply at your local office
Eligible agricultural producers and handlers can apply for OTECP by working directly with the Farm Service Agency office at their local USDA Service Center. Applications will be accepted via mail, fax, hand delivery, or electronic means.
Producers with an eAuthentication account will be able to apply for OTECP via the FSA's OTECP Application Portal. Applications will be completed, electronically signed, and submitted directly to your local USDA Service Center through this online system. Producers interested in creating an eAuthentication account should visit farmers.gov/sign-in to learn more.
The following forms will be needed to apply for OTECP. These forms will be available for download when the OTECP application period opens on November 8.
FSA-883, Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP) Application: This form includes a certification of the applicant’s status as a certified operation or transitional operation and their eligible expenses.
**AD-2047, Customer Data Worksheet: ** This form will be required if not already on file with FSA and documents personal information that positively identifies the customer. Existing customers can also use this form to update their customer profile.
**SF-3881, ACH Vendor/Miscellaneous Payment Enrollment Form: ** This form will be required if not already on file with FSA and will be used to collect your banking information to allow USDA to make payments to you via direct deposit.
Please note that applicants may be required to provide additional documentation to FSA, if necessary, to verify eligibility or issue payment.
FSA-883, Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP) Application
Frequently Asked Questions about the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program
Notice of Funds Availability: Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program
Stakeholder Toolkit: Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program
Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program Eligible Expenses Infographic
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