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Farmers market produce

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) has announced a new program to help produce growers offset the cost of developing a food safety program. The Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops program (FSCSC) is an important financial risk management tool to address the rising cost of market-driven food safety certification requirements.

Program Eligibility

To be eligible for the program, specialty crop growers must meet the definition of a small or very small business. This means they must have sold less than $500,000 in average value of specialty crops over the last three years. Since this is a reimbursement program, the expenses must have incurred and been paid by the application date. However, producers can include expenses paid in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

Only growers based in the United States or territories that have obtained or renewed a food safety certification between June 21, 2022 and December 31, 2022 are eligible this year. For those that obtain food safety certification next year, they will be able to apply in 2023.

Eligible Expenses


Training to assist growers in meeting food safety requirements are fully reimbursed up to the program limits. This training can include the following areas:

  • Produce Safety Alliance
  • Basic GAPs
  • Advanced GAPs
  • Hands-on training to build skills to implement food safety practices
  • Fruit and Vegetable HACCP

Growers can also be reimbursed for the cost of training materials, online tools, and certificates that are used to obtain food safety certification. For more information about training offered by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, contact Camila Rodrigues at czr0079@aces.edu or 334-758-1107.

Partial Reimbursements

Food safety plan. Growers writing a food safety plan for the first time can receive partial reimbursement for seminars and tools used to develop the plan as well as the cost of hiring a consultant to assist with plan development. After the first year, the FSA will provide partial reimbursement for costs to update the food safety plan.

Certification costs. Partial reimbursement is also provided for certification costs such as application fees, inspection fees, user fees, certifier sales assessments, certification upload fees, and postage.

Testing costs. If a food safety plan requires product, soil, or water testing for microbiological hazards, the FSA will provide partial reimbursement for testing expenses.


Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops Program Maximum Payment Rates

ExpenseHistorically Underserved FarmerOther Applicants
Development of a food safety plan for first-time certification75% (no maximum)50% (no maximum)
Maintaining or updating a food safety plan75% up to $37550% up to $250
Food safety certification75% up to $2,00050% up to $2,000
Certification upload fees75% up to $37550% up to $250
Microbiological testing – produce75% up to five tests50% up to five tests
Microbiological testing – soil amendments75% up to five tests50% up to five tests
Microbiological testing – water75% up to five tests50% up to five tests
Training100% up to $300100% up to $200


More Information

The application period for 2022 starts June 27 and closes January 31, 2023. Growers can find more information or complete an application through their local FSA office. Need help finding the nearest FSA office? Visit the USDA website at offices.usda.gov.

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