USDA NRCS Announces Organic Initiative Signup in South Carolina
Columbia, SC, January 10, 2014--The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in South Carolina has announced an opportunity to apply for its Organic Initiative during fiscal year 2014. To be considered, eligible certified organic growers, or those producers who are transitioning to organic production, must submit a complete application by February 21, 2014.
The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 created a special provision for organic producers and those who are in the process of becoming organic producers. Certified organic producers, and those transitioning to organic, may be eligible to receive payments through the Organic Initiative under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). NRCS will focus financial and technical assistance through the EQIP Organic Initiative to applicants who are:
• Certified organic producers
• Transitioning to organic production, or
• Producers selling less than $5000 organic products annually
The Organic Initiative provides financial assistance to implement a broad set of conservation practices to assist organic producers meet their resource concerns and fulfill many of the requirements in an Organic System Plan (OSP) including, but not limited to assistance with: developing a conservation plan; developing a transition to organic production plan; establishing boundaries and buffer zones; improving soil quality and organic matter while minimizing erosion; improving pest management; developing a grazing plan and improving grazing resources; improving waste utilization and composting; improving irrigation efficiency; and enhancing cropping systems and nutrient management.
There is an option for farmers transitioning to organic production to receive funding to hire a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) to develop an Organic Transition plan. Applications for the EQIP Organic Initiative are accepted continuously throughout the year to be evaluated, ranked, and prioritized. To apply, growers need to complete an application form and contact their local NRCS office at a USDA Service Center.
Financial assistance is limited to totals of a maximum of $20,000 per fiscal year and no more than $80,000 over a rolling six year Farm Bill for all contracts approved through this authority. You can learn more at www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/programs/financial/eqip/?cid=nrcs143_008224
Interested producers should visit their nearest USDA Service Center to determine eligibility Learn more by visiting your local NRCS field office. For more information about conservation in South Carolina, visit our website at www.sc.nrcs.usda.gov