Friday, April 29, 2011

USDA extends its $50 million Organic Initiative for Farmers and Ranchers

MatthewBig news if you’re an organic farmer or interested in giving organic farming a shot – a great funding opportunity, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative, has been renewed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the second year!

The program provides financial and technical assistance for producers who are using, or planning to transition to, organically certifiable conservation practices on their farm.

Many of the practices the program covers are great ideas anyway. The eligible practices include: cover cropping, pest management, crop rotation, stream buffers, hedgerow planting and many more. This incentive makes the shift to organic production methods that you may have already been considering much easier on the balance sheet.

So get out there, apply for the grant and start putting these conservation practices to good work.

How it works:

The USDA EQIP Organic Initiative is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Producers planning to implement a specific practice can apply to the NRCS for technical assistance and funding for the costs of implementing the practice. The initiative may pay up to 75% of the costs and forgone income of certain conservation activity plans. Underserved producers (including limited resource farmers/ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers and tribes) may be eligible for payments up to 90 percent of the costs and forgone income. The payments range between $20,000 to $80,000 per year for a maximum of 6 years.

Farm Aid’s recommendation for your next steps:

Act fast! The deadline is May 20, 2011.

Apply! Contact your NRCS office to speak to your NRCS contact. Develop a working relationship with that person. Seek their guidance in the application and the process.

Learn more! Check out Farm Aid’s partner organization and grantee, the Organic Farming Research Foundation’s EQIP page, for an explanation of the program in detail

Get connected! Contact your local organic farming organization to get some good ideas, use their resources, learn from other producers and strengthen your operation. Visit Farm Aid’s Farmer Resource Network to search for local organizations that can help you with your organic practices.

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