$50 Million For Organic Farmers

USDA invests
in EQIP Organic Initiative

By the Center for Rural Affairs

Farmers and ranchers transitioning to organic as well as established organic producers have another opportunity to apply for Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative funding to assist their organic efforts. The deadline for this application period is May 20.

The USDA recently announced that they will, for the third consecutive year, invest $50 million in funding for the EQIP Organic Initiative, which provides a 75 percent share of the cost of implementing organic conservation measures to those who qualify — 90 percent for beginning, limited-resource and socially-disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

In 2010 USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) obligated $24 million nationally to assist organic farmers and ranchers with organic transition. More than twice that — $50 million — is available again this year for producers across the nation to plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns in ways that assist with transitioning agricultural land and production to organic certification.

“We commend NRCS and USDA leadership for listening to the concerns of organic farmers and applaud their new initiative,” commented Traci Bruckner, Center for Rural Affairs. “It’s unfortunate though that farmers have a very small window to sign up for the program and it’s during the busiest time for farmers – the middle of planting season.”

According to Bruckner, farmers and ranchers can receive compensation for six core conservation practices (conservation crop rotation, cover cropping, integrated pest management, nutrient management, rotational grazing, and forage harvest management) under the program. These are available on a nationwide basis.  Farmers who want to apply for these funds should visit their local District County Natural Resource Conservation Service office. And the Center for Rural Affairs is gearing up to help producers as much as possible during this application period.

“We created an EQIP Organic Initiative fact sheet available at – http://www.cfra.org/node/2509 – and we operate a Farm Bill Helpline where producers can call 402-687-2100, ask for the Farm Bill Helpline and speak to a real person who can help producers receive assistance in accessing new programs like the EQIP organic initiative.

“The Center for Rural Affairs has a long history of assisting family farmers and ranchers to access new conservation programs,” added Bruckner.

The Farm Bill Helpline can also assist farmers and ranchers with the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Cooperative Conservation Partnerships Initiative, the Value Added Agricultural Market Development Program and a host of Beginning Farmer and Rancher programs.

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, nonprofit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.

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