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Fact Sheet - Conservation Opportunities for Organic Farmers

Conservation Opportunities for Organic Farmers and Those Transitioning to Organic Farming

Overview

Organic food sales remain the fastest growing sector in the food industry, swelling by 18 percent in 2007. Organic food sales more than tripled to $1.7 billion in 2007 from $393 million in 2002, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2007 Agriculture Census. This data shows in all states 20,500 farms are producing crops, livestock, and poultry on over 2.5 million organically farmed acres. In Kansas 155 farms sell organically produced commodities. The average farm sales are $48,358 for a total of nearly $7.5 million. This includes crops, including nursery and greenhouse; livestock and poultry; and livestock and poultry products.

Financial Assistance Available

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill) provided funding specifically to help organic farmers and those agricultural producers transitioning to organic farming through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP).

Successful applicants will receive EQIP financial assistance to implement priority conservation practices designed to improve natural resource conditions. Not only do these practices offer significant environmental benefits, but they are also important to growers.

Farmers who want to apply for financial assistance may receive up to $20,000/year and are limited to $80,000 over a six-year period.

Conservation Planning Assistance Available

For more than 70 years, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has placed a high priority on helping agricultural producers with conservation plans to meet their environmental and economic goals, while at the same time planning for the protection of the soil, water, air, and wildlife resources. Conservation goals are highly individual and may include transitioning to organic agriculture or boosting pollinator populations, increasing biodiversity including soil-borne organisms, enhancing water quality, controlling invasive species or dozens of other resource-enhancing possibilities. NRCS conservationists will come to your farm and work with you to develop a conservation plan based on your farm goals. The plan will specify a timeline to implement the conservation practices. Conservation planning assistance is free and does not require participation in financial assistance programs.

How Do I Get Started?

Visit your local USDA Service Center to:

  1. Apply for EQIP assistance at the NRCS.
  2. Develop a conservation plan with NRCS.
  3. Provide NRCS an Organic System Plan (OSP) on your land.
    1. If already certified as organic, bring a copy of your OSP for review.
    2. If transitioning to organic, submit a self-certification letter to the NRCS district conservationist stating your intent to do so. NRCS can provide a template for self-certification if needed.

Eligibility Requirements

  1. Be an agricultural operation that has produced or sold at least $1,000 in agricultural products.
  2. Must own or have control of the land (by lease or rental agreement) for length of contract.
  3. Must be actively engaged in a farming operation.
  4. May be an individual, entity, or joint operation.
  5. Be in compliance with Highly Erodible Land (HEL) and Wetland Conservation Compliance (WC) provisions, as well as payment limitation and adjusted gross income requirements.
  6. Be certified as organic according to the National Organic Program or be in the process of transitioning to organic production.

Visit your local NRCS office for more details about conservation planning and programs to help you protect your farm. For more information about EQIP, go to http://www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/

The information on this page may also be downloaded (requires Adobe Reader).

Fact Sheet - Conservation Opportunities for Organic Farmers and Those Transitioning to Organic Farming (PDF; 60 KB)