National Organic Organizations Pressure FSA to Act on Cost Share

June 5, 2020

Richard Fordyce

Administrator
Farm Service Agency
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Washington, D.C.

Dear Administrator Fordyce:

Like other farmers and food businesses, organic farmers and businesses are also struggling economically as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. As you work to implement the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, we know that Farm Service Agency (FSA) personnel are stretched very thin in their efforts to respond to the pandemic. However, we are very concerned about the delay in FSA’s publication of the notice of funds availability (NOFA) for the two organic certification cost share programs for fiscal year 2020, one of agency’s core assistance programs for organic operations.

Funding for OCCSP is provided through two authorizations: (1) National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (National OCCSP) funds and (2) Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) funds. Section 10105 of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill, Pub. L. 115–334) amended section 10606(d) of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (7 U.S.C. 6523(d)), to authorize $2 million from CCC to be used for National OCCSP funds for each of FYs 2019 and 2020, $4 million for FY 2021, and $8 million for each of FYs 2022 and 2023, to remain available until expended. In addition, carryover federal funding from previous fiscal years was set aside to be used to fund OCCSP activities in 2019 and later years, until fully expended.

Last year, the FSA NOFA for the two Organic Certification Cost Share Programs was published in the Federal Register on April 29, 2019 to announce the availability of the OCCSP funding for Fiscal Year 2019.

https://www.fsa.usda.gov/Assets/USDA-FSA-Public/usdafiles/organic-certification-cost-share-program/pdf/occsp_nofa_2019-08624.pdf

Even with that NOFA publication date, the OCCSP funding for fiscal year 2019 was delayed relative to previous years. As a result, we are very concerned that the significant delay in the FY 2020 NOFA for OCCSP activities will result in further delays in certification cost share reimbursements for certified organic operations who are struggling due to pandemic-related disruptions in their operations.

Therefore, we are requesting that a Notice of Funds Availability for Organic Certification Cost Share Program operations be published immediately.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

国家有机食品联盟
National Farmers Union
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Organic Farmers Association
Organic Farming Research Foundation
Organic Trade Association