2014 Organic Initiative
Maryland's organic farmers are implementing long standing and new, innovative conservation practices to protect the natural resources on their farms through a USDA initiative to help producers of all commodities meet their conservation goals. The 2008 Farm Bill specifically includes help to organic producers through the Organic Initiative.
Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) the Organic Initiative provides financial assistance to National Organic Program (NOP) certified producers, as well as producers in the process of transitioning to organic production. Eligible applicants also include producers who fall under the exemption category in the National Organic Program (NOP) regulation.
- Certified organic producers must provide NRCS with a copy of their Organic System Plan (OSP) and Organic Certification must be maintained for the life of the contract.
- 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 before an EQIP contract can be approved.
- Organic producers selling less than $5,000 a year in organic agricultural products are exempt from organic certification. Exempt organic producers are eligible for the EQIP Organic Initiative. Applications should be ranked with certified organic producers provided that they self certify that they agree to develop and implement an OSP.
EQIP Organic Initiative Self-Certification Worksheet for Fiscal Year 2013
Organic producers applying through this initiative can receive up to $20,000 per year or $80,000 over six years. Farmers may also compete for the larger pool of EQIP funds that allow for up to $300,000 over six years.
Approved Conservation Practices
|Approved OI Practices
|Herbaceous Weed Control
|Animal Mortality Facility
|Conservation Crop Rotation
|Residue and Tillage Management, No Till/Strip Till/Direct Seed
|Contour Orchard and Other Perennial Crops
|Contour Buffer Strips
|Critical Area Planting
|Residue and Tillage Management, Mulch Till
|Well Water Testing
|Riparian Herbaceous Cover
|Riparian Forest Buffer
|Grade Stabilization Structure
|Irrigation System, Micro irrigation
|Irrigation System, Sprinkler
|Irrigation Water Management
|Forest Harvest Management
|Forage and Biomass Planting
|Drainage Water Management
|Heavy Use Area Protection
|Structure for Water Control
|Integrated Pest Management
|Water and Sediment Control Basin
|Seasonal Tunnel System for Crops
|Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition
Visit the National Organic Program Initiative website for more information.
NRCS Field Offices, located in the USDA Service Centers in each Maryland county, can provide additional details and program assistance concerning Organic Initiative eligibility requirements, practices, and payments.
Mikel Williams Hawkins
Farm Bill Specialist
Assistant State Conservationist- Programs