Organic Farming Initiative
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
National Organic Farming Initiative
Under PA EQIP and National EQIP, eligible farmers and landowners can receive financial and technical assistance to install conservation practices needed to protect natural resources as part of their certified organic operation, or if they are transitioning to organic production. In addition, there is an option for farmers transitioning to organic production to receive funding to hire a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) to develop a Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition. (NOTE: a Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition is not the same as an Organic Transition Plan or OSP. See USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service's web site on the National Organic Program for more information about Organic System Plans and organic certification.)
Information on Organic Farming
USDA maintains a centralized web resource center on USDA.gov with links to programs, services, and data to support organic agriculture.
Conservation Funding to Support Organic Farming
Farmers can apply for and receive funding for all of the regular EQIP program offerings, along with special EQIP options available only to certified organic farmers or farmers who are transitioning to organic farming. This special organic initiative funding allows contracts of up to $20,000 per year, not to exceed $80,000 total over a 6-year period. Producers with organic operations do not compete against non-organic farmers for these special funds, and payment rates for some core practices may be higher than rates for non-organic applications.
Payments are not authorized for activities or practice components which are solely production related and are not associated with an identified resource concern.
There is an “Organic-Transition” option and a “Certified Organic” option. Farmers who have land that is already certified organic should apply under the Certified Organic category, and be able to present a current copy of their certified Organic System Plan. Farmers who sell less than $5,000.00 per year of organic products are considered to be certification exempt according to National Organic Program (NOP) regulations and should apply under the Organic-Transition category.
Farmers who are transitioning their operation to organic production, should apply under the Organic-Transition option and agree to develop and implement conservation practices for certified organic production that are consistent with an OSP.
Applications for the EQIP Organic Farming Initiative are accepted continuously throughout the year to be evaluated, ranked, and prioritized. FY 2015 ranking dates are February 20th,
April 17th, and May 15th, pending the availability of funds. To apply, you will need to complete an application form and contact your local NRCS office at a USDA Service Center.
Applicants must meet basic EQIP Eligibility Requirements and be a Certified Organic operation, qualify as exempt from certification or be transitioning to Organic Certification.
To be eligible for EQIP and this special funding, the applicant must:
- Have an interest in an agricultural operation that produces agricultural products.
- Own or have control of the land (by lease or rental agreement) for the length of contract
- Be an individual, entity, or joint operation
- Be registered in the USDA Service Center Information Database (SCIMS)
- Be certified as organic according to the National Organic Program OR be in the process of transitioning to organic production
What is the Contract Period?
EQIP offers contracts with a minimum term that ends one year after the implementation of the last scheduled practice and a maximum term of ten years. Contracts provide pre-determined program payments to the producer for the implementation of the planned practices according to a schedule developed with the producer.
The schedule lists the conservation practice extent (amount), date to be installed, and payment. Practices are subject to NRCS technical standards adapted for local conditions. Deviation from the contract schedule is considered a contract violation unless approved in advance.