The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is again offering financial support and technical assistance to organic farmers and farmers transitioning to organic production systems. NRCS has committed $50 million for the 2010 Organic Initiative available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) on a nationwide basis.
The signup period ends on March 12, 2010.
- Farmers just beginning or in the process of transitioning to organic production;
- Existing certified organic farmers who want to transition additional acres or animals;
- Existing certified organic farmers who need to adopt additional conservation measures;
- Producers who sell less than $5,000 in agricultural products and are thus exempt from formal certification are still eligible for Organic Initiative payments.
- Farmers whose 2009 applications to the Organic Initiative were deferred will receive a letter from NRCS outlining their options in 2010.
Practices and Payments
Each NRCS State Conservationist will develop a list of practices offered through the initiative to support organic and transitioning farmers. To find out which practices are available in your state, contact your state office.
Farmers will be paid 75% of the cost of implementing the organic practice including income forgone. The payment rate is set at 90% for beginning farmers, limited resource farmers and applicants of historically underserved communities, including American Indians or Alaskan Natives, Asians, Blacks or African Americans, Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics.
In certain states, transitioning farmers will have the option to apply for funds to develop a “Conservation Activity Plan” to support their transition to organic production. To find out if your state is offering this planning support, contact your state office.
All applications received during this sign up period will be ranked using national and in some cases state level criteria related to how well the proposed contract contributes to conserving soil, water quality and other resource concerns. Farmers who are awarded a contract will then be eligible for technical assistance to assist with implementation of the practices.
For more information, visit the NSAC Organic Initiative page.
NSAC Member organizations that can answer producer questions about the Organic Initiative include: Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, Organic Farming Research Foundation, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, National Center for Appropriate Technology, Center for Rural Affairs, Agriculture and Land Based Training Association, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Kansas Rural Center, and Florida Organic Growers.