Iowa farmers must apply by March 12 to receive financial assistance in fiscal year 2010 through the Organic Initiative that is part of USDA's Environmental Quality Incentives Plan or EQIP. Last year, Iowans received nearly $3.5 million in EQIP financial assistance to apply organic farming practices.
Through the 2008 Farm Bill, farmers who transition to organic agriculture can receive special assistance for meeting their soil and water conservation goals, explains Dave Brommel, EQIP coordinator for USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service in Iowa. In addition, already certified organic producers can receive EQIP assistance for applying new soil and water conservation practices to their operation to treat a natural resource concern.
Organic initiative is part of USDA's 2010 EQIP program
Under EQIP, the NRCS helps farmers apply soil and water conservation practices to optimize environmental benefits on working agricultural lands. These practices include, but are not limited to: cover crops, nutrient and pest management practices, prescribed grazing, crop residue and tillage management, and seasonal high tunnel systems for crops.
Applicants with certified organic operations must submit a copy of their current Organic System Plan or OSP to NRCS. Producers who apply for assistance to transition their operation to organic production will be required to submit a self-certification letter stating the applicant agrees to develop and implement conservation practices consistent with an OSP. All Organic Initiative applicants must provide the name and contact information of the USDA-accredited certifying agent who certified the organic operation.
To apply for an EQIP contract, visit the NRCS office at your local USDA Service Center. More information about the Organic Initiative is available at www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/stateeqip.html.