NRCS Colorado Organic Initiative

2013 National Organic Initiative (NOI)USDA Organic Logo

The 2008 Farm Bill highlights the availability of financial and technical assistance to help producers of all commodities meet their conservation goals, including producers transitioning to organic farming and currently certified organic producers. The assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through the EQIP program helps producers plan and implement conservation practices to allow their organic operations to be environmentally sustainable. EQIP is primarily used to provide financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices to address soil, water, air, plant, animal, and energy resources. A new organic provision targets organic producers and producers transitioning to organic production:

  • Assistance is for conservation practices related to organic production
  • Assistance is limited to $20,000 per year and $80,000 during a six year period
  • Producers are required to develop and carry out an Organic System Plan (OSP) or carry out practices consistent with an OSP
  • Producers must be pursing an organic certification or in compliance with their organic certification

Through the EQIP Organic Initiative, NRCS provides assistance to eligible producers for installation of conservation practices on agricultural operations related to organic production. NRCS has determined that this definition includes certified organic producers and producers who are transitioning to become certified organic. Eligible applicants also include producers who fall under the exemption category in the National Organic Program (NOP) regulation. Producers that sell agricultural products as “organic” but whose gross agricultural income from organic sales totals $5,000 or less are exempt from certification. Additional information about the NOP and organic certification requirements administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) can be found at Approved land uses include cropland, headquarters, pasture and rangelands.

Experimenting with cover crops and crop rotations, installing intensive grazing infrastructure (grazing plans, internal fencing, walkways, water lines), establishing wildlife and pollinator friendly habitat, and installing seasonal high tunnels are examples of conservation practices for which funding may be available under this program. In addition, Colorado offers Conservation Activity Plans that support conservation planning for organic agriculture.

NRCS accepts applications on an ongoing basis. There will be two application periods in 2013. The first application period ended February 15, 2013. The second application period will end April 19, 2013. Interested applicants should contact the local NRCS Field Office for assistance on completing the program application and associated conservation plan development.

Contact your local NRCS office soon to meet with your conservation planning technician and determine which practices could enhance your farming operation.

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NOI Screening and Self Certification
Certified Organic Ranking Criteria
Organic Transition Ranking Criteria
FY13 Payment Schedule
FY13 CAP Payment Rates

Complete the application using forms NRCS-CPA-1200, Conservation Program Application and NRCS-CPA-1202, Conservation Program Appendix. En Español. You may complete and print the form online.

Additional information about program can be found at NRCS at your local USDA Service Center.