USDA Expands Funding Opportunities for Specialty Crop Growers to Help Offset On-Farm Food Safety Expenses for 2024 and 2025    

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expanding the Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops (FSCSC) program to now include medium-sized businesses in addition to small businesses. Eligible specialty crop growers can apply for assistance for expenses related to obtaining or renewing a food safety certification. The program has also been expanded to include assistance for 2024 and 2025 expenses. Producers can apply for assistance on their calendar year 2024 expenses beginning July 1, 2024, through Jan. 31, 2025. For program year 2025, the application period will be Jan. 1, 2025, through Jan. 31, 2026. 

“The Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops (FSCSC) program helps producers cover costs of on-farm food safety certification in order to meet regulatory requirements and access additional markets,” said Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “We recognize the value in supporting specialty crop producers incurring these expenses, so we’re not only continuing the program but also improving access by expanding program reach to include medium-sized operations.” 

Program Details  

FSCSC assists specialty crop operations that incurred eligible on-farm food safety certification and expenses related to obtaining or renewing a food safety. 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.  

Eligible FSCSC applicants must be a specialty crop operation; meet the definition of a small or medium-size business and have paid eligible expenses related to certification.  

  • A small business has an average annual monetary value of specialty crops sold by the applicant during the three-year period preceding the program year of no more than $500,000. 
  • A medium size business has an average annual monetary value of specialty crops the applicant sold during the three-year period preceding the program year of at least $500,001 but no more than $1,000,000.  

Specialty crop operations can receive the following cost assistance:  

  • 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 eligible cost category. Details about payment rates and limitations are available at  

Applying for Assistance  

Interested applicants have until Jan. 31, 2025, to apply for assistance for 2024 eligible expenses. FSA will issue payments as applications are processed and approved. For program year 2025, the application period will be January 1, 2025, through January 31, 2026. FSA will issue 50% of the calculated payment for program year 2025 following application approval, with the remaining amount to be paid after the application deadline. If calculated payments exceed the amount of available funding, payments will be prorated. 

Specialty crop producers can apply by completing the FSA-888-1, Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops Program (FSCSC) for Program Years 2024 and 2025 application. The application, along with the AD-2047Customer Data Worksheet and SF-3881ACH Vendor/Miscellaneous Payment Enrollment Form, if not already on file with FSA, can be submitted to the FSA office at any USDA Service Center nationwide by mail, fax, hand delivery or via electronic means. Alternatively, producers with an eAuthentication account can apply for FSCSC online. Producers interested in creating an eAuthentication account should visit

Specialty crop producers can also call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a FSA employee ready to assist. Visit for additional program details, eligibility information and forms needed to apply. 

More Information  

To learn more about FSA programs, producers can contact their local USDA Service Center. Producers can also prepare maps for acreage reporting as well as manage farm loans and view other farm records data and customer information by logging into their account. Producers without an account can sign up today.  

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit