Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan says USDA will provide funding to help organic producers and those transitioning to organic production implement resource conservation practices on their agricultural operations. Under Organic Initiative contracts, producers are paid 75% of the cost for the organic conservation measures they implement. Beginning, limited resource, and socially disadvantaged producers are paid 90%.
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. In FY 2010, NRCS obligated nearly $24 million through the Organic Initiative to help producers implement conservation practices.
In making the announcement, Merrigan said increasing consumer demand for organically grown foods is providing new opportunities for small and mid-size farmers to prosper and stay competitive in today's economy. Producers interested in applying must submit applications through their local NRCS Service Center. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis, with the cutoff date set for March 4, 2011.