USDA is providing Iowa certified organic producers and those who are transitioning to organic production another funding opportunity to put resource conservation practices to work on their agricultural operations.
Funding for the Organic Initiative is provided through USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentives Program , a voluntary conservation program that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible national goals. The 2008 Farm Bill provided assistance specifically for organic farm operations and for farmers who are converting to organic production.
Cutoff date for applications for current funding period is May 20
While applications are accepted on a continuous basis, the cutoff date for this application period is May 20, 2011.
Fiscal year 2011 marks the third year of USDA's Organic Initiative, says Dave Brommel, EQIP coordinator for NRCS in Iowa. NRCS provided nearly $5 million the past two years to help Iowa producers plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns in ways that are consistent with organic production. For example, conservation practices include planting cover crops, establishing new crop rotations, constructing seasonal high tunnels, or implementing nutrient management systems consistent with organic certification standards.
Eligible producers include those certified through USDA's National Organic Program, those transitioning to certified organic production, and those who meet organic standards but are exempt from certification because their gross annual organic sales are less than $5,000.
Under EQIP Organic Initiative contracts, NRCS provides financial payments and technical assistance to help producers implement conservation measures in keeping with organic production. Beginning, limited resource, and socially disadvantaged producers may obtain additional assistance. The 2008 Farm Bill limits EQIP payments for organic operations to $20,000 per year per person or legal entity, with a maximum total of $80,000 over six years.
Producers interested in applying for EQIP Organic Initiative funding must submit applications through their local NRCS Service Center. More information about the Organic Initiative is available online at www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/OrganicInitiative.html.