National Organic Initiative
Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), NRCS helps certified organic growers and producers working to achieve organic certification install conservation practices for organic production. Applicants are evaluated continuously during the ranking periods. Applications with the highest environmental ranking score may be approved for an EQIP contract before the end of the ranking period.
Who Can Apply
People or entities who are certified organic, transitioning to organic production, or exempt organic producers (less than $5,000 in gross sales per year), and have natural resource concerns on their farm can apply. The applicant must demonstrate control of eligible land in agricultural production. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, and other farm lands.
Certified organic producers must provide NRCS with a copy of their Organic System Plan (OSP). Organic Certification must be maintained for the life of the contract.
Producers transitioning to organic must self-certify that they agree to develop and implement an Organic System Plan (OSP) and provide NRCS the contact information of the applicant’s USDA accredited organic certifying agent.
Exempt organic producers (less than $5,000 in gross sales per year) are eligible for the EQIP Organic Initiative. Applications will be ranked with certified organic producers provided that they self-certify that they agree to develop and implement an OSP.
Applications submitted for EQIP Initiatives are accepted continually throughout the year. Applications are evaluated and ranked based on expected environmental benefits from implementation of approved conservation practices.
EQIP Sign-up Information
An Organic System Plan (OSP) is a management plan for organic production or for an organic handling operation that is approved by a certifying agent and followed by the producer or handler. The OSP includes all written plans that govern all aspects of agricultural production or handling.
Classifications of Organic Producers
Certified Organic Operation - A crop or livestock production, wild-crop harvesting or handling operation, or a portion of such operation that is certified by an accredited certifying agent as utilizing a system of organic production or handling. To qualify for EQIP Organic Initiative, the producer must meet the eligibility requirements of EQIP and provide NRCS with a copy of an organic system plan in accordance with the standards established in the National Organic Programs (NOP) Act (7 U.S.C. Sections 6501 to 6522). Organic certification must be maintained for the life of the contract. The Designated Conservationist (DC) use the Agricultural Marketing Service website, http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop to confirm organic certification each year. Proof of certification status is recorded in the contract holder case file for the required annual contract review.
Exempt Organic Producer - A producer that sells less than $5,000 in organic products annually. To qualify for the EQIP Organic Initiative, the producer must meet the eligibility requirements of EQIP, agree to implement conservation practices consistent with an Organic System Plan (OSP), and provide documentation that they sell less than $5,000 in organic products per year.
Transitioning to Organic Producer - A producer who is pursuing organic certification as they transition to organic production. To qualify for the EQIP Organic Initiative, they must meet the eligibility requirements of EQIP and provide the producer’s accredited certifying agent contact information.
What is Available?
Organic producers may use the funding to plant cover crops, establish integrated pest management plans, or implement nutrient management systems consistent with organic certification standards.
Producers are paid up to 75 percent of the typical cost for implementing organic conservation measures. Beginning, limited resource, and socially disadvantaged producers are paid 90 percent of this cost. Payment limits are $20,000 per year per person or legal entity, with a maximum of $80,000 over six years.
Organic Resource Concerns, Practices List, Payment Schedules and Ranking Questions
Organic Certification Form
Conservation Activity Plans (CAP)
Financial assistance may be available to participants for conservation planning services through a Technical Service Provider (TSP) to develop Conservation Activity Plans (CAP). A CAP identifies conservation practices that address specific natural resource needs. These plans are developed by land use - crop land, grazing land, forest land - and may also address a resource need - nutrient management, air quality. After a CAP is developed, producers can apply for financial assistance to implement the conservation practices in the plan.
Carrie Cusick, Acting EQIP Program Manager