Got Organic? Looking to Go Organic? Apply at Your Local NRCS Office by March 30, 2012
Apply at Your Local NRCS Office by March 30, 2012
Richmond, February 6, 2012 – If you are interested in joining Virginia’s growing number of USDA Certified Organic producers, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can help you with financial and technical assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative.
Now in its fourth year, the initiative is available for farmers who are already certified organic, transitioning to organic production or whose gross agricultural income from organic sales is less than $5,000. With more than 40 conservation practices available to improve soil health and water quality, chances are NRCS can assist you in meeting the requirements of organic certification.
NRCS State Conservationist Jack Bricker urges interested producers to sign up now because applications will be ranked in a national funding pool with other states. Financial assistance is limited to $20,000 per year ($80,000 during a six-year period). Transitioning and certified organic farmers will be ranked in separate pools and beginning, socially disadvantaged and limited resource farmers may be eligible for higher payment rates.
Financial assistance is available for popular practices such as cover crops, nutrient management, seasonal high tunnels, crop rotation, and fencing. Producers are required to develop and follow an Organic System Plan (OSP) or install practices consistent with an OSP. A 2012 EQIP Correlation Matrix is available online to help growers make informed decisions about which practices to install to maintain their certification.
Organic producers who wish to extend their growing season in an environmentally safe manner may also sign up for technical and financial assistance through the Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative. These steel-framed polyethylene-covered structures offer many benefits, including improved plant and soil quality, fewer nutrients and pesticides in the environment, and reduced energy costs for transporting crops to consumers. NRCS funding may only be used for 2,178 square feet of high tunnel per person or farming operation.
Contact your local NRCS field office to apply for Organic or Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative funding. Applications received after March 30 will be ranked in the next funding group on June 1.