Organic production systems integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity as defined by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and regulations in Title 7, Part 205 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Managed by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, the National Organic Program develops, implements, and administers national organic production, handling, and labeling standards.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides assistance to organic and transitioning producers to assess resource concerns and plan and install conservation practices.
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
With funding from Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), the following five guides were created by Oregon Tilth for use by NRCS staff in the Western Region:
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 and Sustainable Agriculture webinars
USDA NRCS organic and sustainable agriculture webinars are typically scheduled the first Tuesday of even-numbered months and start at 3:00 PM Eastern / 12:00 PM Pacific. There is no charge to participate, and continuing education credits and/or training certificates are available to document participation. Live webinars are recorded to provide access to an on-demand replay. 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 Information
NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program – Organic Initiative assists eligible participants install or implement conservation practices on eligible agricultural 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 on their land. 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
David Lamm, Natural Resources Specialist, East National Technology Support Center