Organic farming is an ecologically-based system that relies on preventative practices for weed, insect and disease problems, uses nontoxic methods to manage problems if they arise, and improves the natural resources of the land, including soil and water quality.
Organic producers, or producers transitioning to organic, can receive conservation technical assistance and can apply for all NRCS programs.
National Organic Program
Managed by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, the National Organic Program develops, implements, and administers national organic production, handling, and labeling standards. If you’re wondering whether organic is a good option for your operation, visit the USDA’s Organic Literacy Initiative resources to learn more.
Organic Conservation Planning Resources
With funding from Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), the following guides were created by Oregon Tilth for use by NRCS staff:
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation has a number of resources related to pollinator habitat assessment and design on organic farms.
The NRCS Organic Initiative Practice List and National Organic Program Rules Matrix (PDF; 52KB) correlates the organic system plan and organic certification requirements with NRCS conservation practices. (Not all practices are appropriate in all areas.)
Information for Technical Service Providers is available at TechReg.
NRCS Organic Agriculture Webinars
Webinars are typically scheduled the first Tuesday of even-numbered months and start at 3:00 PM EST / 12:00 PM PST. They are free and participants may earn and continuing education credits and/or training certificates. Live webinars are recorded for later viewing. These webinars are presented in partnership with Oregon Tilth.
As recipients of an NRCS-funded Conservation Innovation Grant, The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) offers webinar-based training on the conservation benefits of crop rotations, pest management in organic systems, and tropical and semi-tropical organic production. These webinars are designed to better integrate sustainable and organic agriculture production systems into NRCS planning and programs.
Additional webinars on organic topics can be found on eOrganic, the online eXtension community focused on organic agriculture. eXtension is an interactive learning environment delivering the best, most researched knowledge from the smartest land-grant university minds across America.
NRCS EQIP Organic Initiative
NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program – Organic Initiative helps producers with conservation on their land and can support National Organic Program standards. Eligible program participants receive financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices, or activities like conservation planning, that address natural resource concerns. Payments are made to participants after conservation practices and activities identified in an EQIP plan of operations are implemented.
NRCS Organic Contacts
- Ben Bowell, Organic Specialist, West National Technology Support Center
- Sarah Brown, Organic Specialist, West National Technology Support Center
- Lindsay Haines, EQIP Organic Program Specialist, National Headquarters