Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program

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.

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 

Please click to learn more about specific eligible expenses and payments for your operation type. 


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. 

Program Eligibility

Eligibility requirements for OTECP applicants are outlined below. We recommend you review these requirements before initiating your OTECP application.

 To be eligible for OTECP, an applicant must:

  • Have paid eligible expenses during fiscal year 2020, 2021, or 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. 

 Please note, eligible expenses for OTECP are available by clicking the boxes above. 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. 

Apply for the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program

The OTECP application period for program years 2020 and 2021 is November 8, 2021, through January 7, 2022. The application period for program year 2022 will be announced at a later date.

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. 

Alternatively, producers with an eAuthentication account may apply for OTECP via our OTECP Application Portal. Applications will be completed, electronically signed, and submitted directly to your local USDA Service Center through this online system. Please reference our OTECP Application Portal User Guide for additional information, including step-by-step application instructions. Producers interested in creating an eAuthentication account should visit farmers.gov/sign-in to learn more. 

The following forms are needed to apply for OTECP:

Please note that applicants may be required to provide additional documentation to FSA, if necessary, to verify eligibility or issue payment.

You are encouraged to contact the FSA office at your local USDA Service Center with any questions about OTECP, program eligibility, or the application process. You may also call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to provide one-on-one assistance. 

Find Your Local Service Center

We are committed to delivering USDA services to America’s farmers and ranchers while taking safety measures in response to the pandemic. Some USDA offices are beginning to reopen to limited visitors by appointment only. Service Center staff also continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email, and other digital tools. Learn more at farmers.gov/coronavirus.

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to find your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit offices.usda.gov.

Visit the Risk Management Agency website to find a regional or compliance office or to find an insurance agent near you.