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Nichki Carangelo and Laszlo Lazar operate Letterbox Farm, a diversified organic farm in Hudson, New York, where they grow vegetables, greens, herbs and flowers and raise chickens, pigs and rabbits for  their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, online sales, and farm stand.

Here, Katelyn Neff is a recent graduate of Environmental Science where she focused on ecology. It’s her first season as a part of the farm crew, and since her dream is to incorporate scientific study and agriculture on her o

Beginning Farmer Initiative - Oregon

Are you new to farming? This statewide fund pool supports those who qualify as beginning farmers with a wide variety of resource concerns.

Oregon's Beginning Farmer Initiative


This fund pool addresses a wide variety of resource concerns on land owned or operated by those who qualify as beginning farmers.

The term “Beginning Farmer or Rancher” means a participant who:

  • Has not operated a farm or ranch, or who has operated a farm or ranch for not more than 10 consecutive years. This requirement applies to all members of a legal entity, -AND-
  • Who will materially and substantially participate in the operation of the farm or ranch.

In the case of a contract with an individual, individually or with the immediate family, material and substantial participation requires that the individual provide substantial day-to-day labor and management of the farm or ranch, consistent with the practices in the county or State where the farm is located.

In the case the contract made with a legal entity, all members must materially and substantially participate in the operation of the farm or ranch. Material and substantial participation requires that the members provide some amount of the management, or labor and management necessary for day-to-day activities, such that if the members did not provide these inputs, operation of the farm or ranch would be seriously impaired.  

Counties: Baker, Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Malheur, Marion, Morrow, Multnomah, Polk, Sherman, Tillamook, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Wasco, Washington, Wheeler, Yamhill

Primary Resource Concerns Addressed

  • Air Quality Emissions
  • Aquatic Habitat
  • Concentrated Erosion
  • Degraded Plant Condition
  • Field Pesticide Loss
  • Field Sediment, Nutrient and Pathogen Loss
  • Fire Management
  • Inefficient Energy Use
  • Livestock Production Limitation
  • Pest Pressure
  • Salt Losses to Water
  • Soil Quality Limitations
  • Source Water Depletion
  • Storage and Handling of Pollutants
  • Terrestrial Habitat
  • Weather Resilience
  • Wind and Water Erosion

Conservation Practices Offered

All conservation available in Oregon’s FY23 payment schedule are offered under the organic initiative. 

Ranking Criteria
NRCS uses these questions to evaluate applications for this fund pool and to prioritize applications for potential funding. State and national ranking questions also apply. See more information on the EQIP program page.

Ranking Questions (All counties)

  1. Does the application meet the intent of the Conservation Implementation Strategy (CIS) in the county (service area) and is only for practices currently offered in those CIS that will treat the identified priority resource concern?
  2. The “Summary Total Ranking Score” for the application when ranked in the CIS pool is:
    1. 170 to 200 pts
    2. 130 to 169 pts
    3. 100 to 129 pts
    4. 50 to 100 pts
    5. <50 pts

Ranking Question (Benton, Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Lincoln, Linn Counties)

  1. Will the application implement Climate Smart practices as part of the plan?
    1. 1 practice
    2. 2 practices
    3. 3 practices
    4. 4 or more practices