Seasonal High Tunnel Funding Available through USDA's Organic Initiative
DES MOINES, IOWA, April 17, 2012—Funding for seasonal high tunnels and other conservation practices is available for Iowa certified organic producers and those transitioning to organic production through the USDA's Organic Initiative. More than $1 million is available to help the state's organic producers install various conservation practices, said Dave Brommel, Iowa's Organic Initiative coordinator.
Organic Initiative funding is provided through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a voluntary conservation program that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible national goals. The 2008 Farm Bill provided assistance specifically for organic farm operations and those converting to organic production. Assistance is available to implement resource conservation practices on their agricultural operations.
While applications are accepted on a continuous basis, the cutoff date for this application period is June 1, 2012.
In addition to seasonal high tunnels, some of the eligible conservation practices include planting cover crops, establishing new crop rotations or implementing nutrient management systems consistent with organic certification standards, said Brommel.
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.
Under EQIP Organic Initiative contracts, NRCS provides financial payments and technical assistance to help producers implement conservation measures. Beginning, limited resource, and socially disadvantaged producers may obtain higher rates of financial assistance. The 2008 Farm Bill limits EQIP payments for organic operations to $20,000 per year per person or legal entity, with a maximum total of $80,000 over six years.
Producers interested in applying for EQIP Organic Initiative funding must submit applications through theirlocal NRCS Service Center. More information about the Organic Initiative and a complete list of eligible practices is available online atwww.ia.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/OrganicInitiative.html.
Dave Brommel, Organic Initiative Coordinator