Dec 20, 2023
Application deadline approaches for specialty crop growers, on-farm food safety expenses program

The USDA reminds specialty crop growers that assistance is available for producers who incur eligible on-farm food safety program expenses to obtain or renew a food safety certification through the Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops (FSCSC) program. Producers can apply for assistance on their calendar year 2023 expenses through Jan. 31.

“The Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops program is just one of the many ways USDA is helping support local and regional food systems and opportunities for small-scale producers,” Zach Ducheneaux, Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator, said in a news release. “I’m encouraging specialty crop growers to discover how this program can help mitigate the costs of on-farm food safety certification and meeting regulatory requirements and apply by the January deadline.”

USDA Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops

Program Details

FSCSC assists specialty crop operations that incurred eligible on-farm food safety certification and related expenses pertaining to obtaining or renewing a food safety certification in calendar year 2023. FSCSC covers a percentage of the specialty crop operation’s cost of obtaining or renewing its certification, as well as a portion of related expenses.

To be eligible for FSCSC, the applicant must be a specialty crop operation; meet the definition of a small business or very small business; and have paid eligible expenses related to the 2023 certification.

Specialty crop operations may receive assistance for the following costs:

  • Developing a food safety plan for first-time food safety certification.
  • Maintaining or updating an existing food safety plan.
  • Food safety certification.
  • Certification upload fees.
  • Microbiological testing for products, soil amendments and water.
  • Training.

FSCSC payments are calculated separately for each category of eligible costs. A higher payment rate has been set for socially disadvantaged, limited resource, beginning and veteran farmers and ranchers. Visit for additional program details, eligibility information and forms needed to apply as well as payment rates and limitations .

Applying for Assistance

The FSCSC application period for 2023 closes Jan. 31. FSA will issue payments after the application period closes. If calculated payments exceed the amount of available funding, payments will be prorated.

Interested specialty crop producers can apply by completing the FSA-888, FSCSC application. The application, along with other required documents, can be submitted to the FSA office at any USDA Service Center nationwide by mail, fax, hand delivery or via electronic means.

Specialty crop producers can also call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to assist.

Recently, USDA announced a new effort to further support the U.S. specialty crops sector and increase the competitiveness of its products. Additional information can be found on a new specialty crops-dedicated webpage at


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