MA FSA October Newsletter

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MA FSA October Newsletter  -  October 5, 2022

Message from MA FSA State Executive Director


Greetings from the FSA State Office in Amherst. 

It’s been another challenging year weather-wise.  Our offices across the state have been busy monitoring the U.S. Drought Monitor throughout the year in order to ensure that programs are made available for the producers in Massachusetts.  As we watched the Drought Monitor move from East to West and move from D1 (Moderate Drought) into D3 (Extreme Drought) for a majority of the state, our State and County Offices also provided information that was crucial for obtaining several disaster declarations for the State of Massachusetts.  This information was provided by our State Committee members, County Committee members, and producers like yourself.  For that I would like to thank everyone for their assistance.  

Gathering this information enabled our Offices to administer the Livestock Feed Program(LFP) for certain areas of the state where the Drought Monitor reached D3.  It also has opened up the opportunity once again for producers within this area to request assistance for the Emergency Conservation Program(ECP), which has enabled livestock and orchard producers to drill wells.  The Emergency Loan Program was also initiated as part of these declarations to provide loans to cover expenses from your farming operation. If you would like to apply for any of these programs please contact your FSA County Office.

As we draw closer to the end of this harvest year, it is important that producers who are participating in the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program(NAP) report their yield information to their FSA County Office.  It is also important to contact your FSA County Office to inquire about program deadlines and record requirements for each crop.  

With the elections for County Committee members coming up, please be reminded to cast your ballot for your local County Committee member(s) in December.  Our County Committee system is an important contributor to our agency and is made up of producers like yourself within our state.  Our County Offices rely on County Committee members for their experience and knowledge of the farming community.   If you would like to be considered as a candidate in a future election or know of someone who would be willing to serve on a committee, please contact your FSA County Office to see when your particular area is up for re-election.   

Finally, I hope that the remainder of your harvest season goes as planned and that the weather cooperates.  Take care and hope to see you at upcoming events.

- SED Dan Smiarowski

USDA Accepting Applications to Help Cover Costs of Organic, Transitioning Producers

root crops

Deadline Reminder: October 31, 2022

Agricultural producers and handlers who are certified organic, along with producers and handlers who are transitioning to organic production, can now apply for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Organic and Transitional Education Certification Program (OTECP) and Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP), which help producers and handlers cover the cost of organic certification, along with other related expenses. Applications for OTECP and OCCSP are both due October 31, 2022

OTECP covers:  

  • Certification costs for organic producers and handlers (25% up to $250 per category). 
  • Eligible expenses for transitional producers, including fees for pre-certification inspections and development of an organic system plan (75% up to $750). 
  • Registration fees for educational events (75% up to $200). 
  • Soil testing (75% up to $100).  

Meanwhile, OCCSP covers 50% or up to $500 per category of certification costs in 2022.  

This cost share for certification is available for each of these categories: crops, wild crops, livestock, processing/handling and State organic program fees.   

Producers can receive cost share through both OTECP and OCCSP. Both OTECP and OCCSP cover costs incurred from October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022.  Producers have until October 31, 2022 to file applications, and FSA will make payments as applications are received.  

To apply, producers and handlers should contact the Farm Service Agency (FSA) at their local USDA Service Center. As part of completing the OCCSP applications, producers and handlers will need to provide documentation of their organic certification and eligible expenses. Organic producers and handlers may also apply for OCCSP through participating State agencies.   

Additional details can be found on the OTECP and OCCSP webpages. 

Submit Loan Requests for Financing Early

Farm Loan Programs

The Farm Loan teams in Massachusetts are already working on operating loans for spring 2023 and ask potential borrowers to submit their requests early so they can be timely processed. The farm loan teams can help determine which loan programs are best for applicants. 

FSA offers a wide range of low-interest loans that can meet the financial needs of any farm operation for just about any purpose. The traditional farm operating and farm ownership loans can help large and small farm operations take advantage of early purchasing discounts for spring inputs as well expenses throughout the year. 

Microloans are a simplified loan program that will provide up to $50,000 for both Farm Ownership and Operating Microloans to eligible applicants. These loans, targeted for smaller and non-traditional operations, can be used for operating expenses, starting a new operation, purchasing equipment, and other needs associated with a farming operation.  Loans to beginning farmers and members of underserved groups are a priority.

Other types of loans available include:

Marketing Assistance Loans allow producers to use eligible commodities as loan collateral and obtain a 9-month loan while the crop is in storage. These loans provide cash flow to the producer and allow them to market the crop when prices may be more advantageous.  

Farm Storage Facility Loans can be used to build permanent structures used to store eligible commodities, for storage and handling trucks, or portable or permanent handling equipment. A variety of structures are eligible under this loan, including bunker silos, grain bins, hay storage structures, and refrigerated structures for vegetables and fruit. A producer may borrow up to $500,000 per loan. 

Contact your local FSA County Office to speak to your Farm Loan Team.

USDA Expands Local, Electronic Communication Options for Producers 


USDA is expanding our online communications platform that the Farm Service Agency (FSA) has used for years to now include local information from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Risk Management Agency (RMA), and other USDA agencies.

Subscribers will now receive important information on FSA, NRCS and RMA programs, eligibility requirements, deadlines, and more.

You’re currently subscribed to the MA FSA State newsletter and updates. News will continue to be sent via e-mail right to your home or farm office, or to your smartphone – allowing you to receive immediate notification of USDA news that applies to your agricultural operation. 

You can also subscribe to text alerts from the your personal County USDA Service Center by texting the word MA with your Service Center County's name to 372-669.

- Berkshire County producers, text: maberkshire

- Bristol/Norfolk/Suffolk County producers, text: mabristol

- Franklin County producers, text: mafranklin

- Hampshire/Hampden County producers, text mahampshire

- Middlesex/Essex County producers, text mamiddlesex

- Plymouth/Barnstable/Dukes/Nantucket producers, text: maplymouth

- Worcester County producers, text: maworcester

- MA State Updates, text: massachusetts

Standard text messaging rates apply. Contact your wireless carrier for details associated with your particular data plan. Participants may unsubscribe at any time. 

Subscription preferences, both email and text messaging, can be managed by visiting

For more information or for subscription assistance contact the your local County USDA Service Center.    

Massachusetts Farm Service Agency

MA FSA State Office
445 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002

Phone: 413-253-4500

Daniel Smiarowksi
State Executive Director

Lori Carver
Executive Officer

Katie Bodzinski
District Director

Eric Bodzinski
Farm Loan Chief


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).