Financial Assistance Available for Idaho's Organic Producers
Ron Brooks, Resources Conservationist (Program Contact)
For More Information:
Marlon Winger, Agronomist (Technical contact): 208.378.5730
Ron Brooks, Resource Conservationist (Program contact): 208.378.5724
Alexis Collins, Public Affairs Specialist: 208.685.6978
Boise, ID, March 21, 2012 – The Natural Resources Conservation Service is looking for organic producers interested in protecting their land's resources. The NRCS's Organic Initiative can help certified organic producers as well as producers transitioning to organic production invest in resource conserving practices.
“There are conservation practices that can help any organic operation big or small," said Marlon Winger, NRCS State Agronomist. "Two of those practices are cover crops and pollinator plantings."
Cover crops are grown to benefit soil health and future crops. They can protect soil from wind and water erosion, increase soil biodiversity, and add nitrogen to the soil. "Organic producers benefit from cover crops because they add organic matter to the soil," Winger said. "Most organic producers lack nitrogen in their crop rotation and cover crops can help. Farmers can increase the nitrogen available to plants with a legume cover crop."
Cover crops also suppress annual weeds, potentially reducing the need to till the soil to remove weeds. The cover crop conservation practice can pay $30 to $89 per acre.
"Creating pollinator habitat is another conservation practice that can benefit organic producers," Winger said. "Specific shrubs and perennials offer nectar and pollen sources for food as well as the nest and shelter areas that pollinators require." Installing conservation cover for pollinator habitat can pay up to $220 per acre.
"Applications are taken at any time of the year for the Organic Initiative. There are two ranking periods coming up where we evaluate the applications and sign contracts with producers with the highest ranking applications," Winger said. The cutoff dates for those ranking periods are March 30 and June 1, 2012.
Currently certified organic producers and those transitioning to organic production systems are eligible to apply for the program. Applicants must meet the requirements of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). To find out about the Organic Initiative and eligibility requirements, contact your local NRCS office. Eligible producers could receive a significant percentage of the cost to install conservation practices.
Read more about cover crops in NRCS Agronomy Tech Note #56 (http://www.id.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/agronomy.html) which was revised in January 2012. Plant Material Tech Note #2A and 2B (http://www.id.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/tech_ref.html#TechNotes) discuss establishing pollinator plantings and suggest plants for the intermountain west and the inland northwest.
To learn more about the Organic Initiative, conservation practices or your eligibility, contact the NRCS office in your area. Find the one nearest you at http://www.id.nrcs.usda.gov/ and click the link "Find a Service Center" at the end of the list on the left side or call 208-378-5700.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).