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Organic Agriculture

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.

NRCS can help organic producers develop a conservation plan that meets their goals, and can often help with financial assistance to implement elements of the plan. There are a wide variety of materials available for agricultural producers who have adopted organic practices as well as those who would like to transition to organic production. 

Learn more with our resources below:

NRCS Growing Organic

Watch our video for an overview of how NRCS assists organic famers.

 

NRCS Resources for Organic Producers

Wall panels with artwork titled "Manos a la obra" (Hands at work) by Manone line one side of the Community garden plots

Getting Assistance

Learn about the technical and financial assistance NRCS offers for organic producers.

A combine moves across a field during harvest.

About NRCS Assistance

Browse the different areas in which NRCS provides assistance — from biodiversity to weed management.

Cover of the Growing Organic brochure

Factsheets and Handouts

Explore NRCS' downloadable materials and other USDA resources for organic producers.

 

Several pigs stand in a field filled with wildflowers.

Training and Webinars 

Find upcoming and on-demand webinars related to organic agriculture.

Gene Thornton of Sneaky Crow Farm in Roanoke, Alabama

Organic Success Stories 

Learn more about organic farming through our featured success stories.

Tracy Potter-Fins and Bethany Stanbery grow fresh, high quality, certified organic, Montana Homegrown produce and flowers for their community via Farm Shares, the Clark Fork River Market (under the Higgins Bridge), Farm Stand and at a variety of stores and restaurants through the Western MT Growers Co-Op.While Tracy focusses her efforts on the vegetable side at County Rail Farm, Bethany focusses her efforts on Field Five Flowers, but they both focus most of the love on their 7-month-old daughter, Imogen St

Get Updates from NRCS

Sign up to receive e-mail updates about organic agriculture from NRCS.

Additional USDA Organic Resources

  • Organic Agriculture Resources for Organic Farmers on Farmers.gov.
  • USDA Organic Website — Many USDA agencies serve the growing organic sector. Whether you're already certified organic, considering transitioning all or part of your operation, or working with organic producers, we have resources for you. This portal connects you with programs, services, and educational materials that can help your organic farm or business. 
  • National Organic Program (NOP) — Managed by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, the NOP 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.
  • Farm Service Agency Assistance for Organic Producers — The Farm Service Agency (FSA) can help you with the cost of transitioning to organic, organic certification, real estate, buildings, repairs, insurance, field buffers, routine operating expenses, storage and handling equipment, crop losses, soil and water conservation, mapping field boundaries, and acreage reporting.
  • Organic Cost Share Programs — Includes the Organic Certification Cost Share Program that provides cost share assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products who are obtaining or renewing their certification under the National Organic Program (NOP). Certified operations may receive up to 50 percent of their certification costs paid during the program year, not to exceed $500 per certification scope.

Contact Information

National NRCS Organic Contacts

  • Lindsay Haines, National Organic and Pest Management Specialist, National Headquarters
  • Donna Hopwood, EQIP Organic Program Specialist, National Headquarters

National Training Partners through Oregon Tilth

  • Ben Bowell, Organic and Training Resource, West National Technology Support Center
  • Marina Oriel, Organic Conservation Specialist, West National Technology Support Center

Find your local USDA Service Center. 

An organic dairy farm

USDA Announces New Organic Transition Initiative

The Organic Transition Initiative is a $300 million multi-agency USDA effort to support farmers transitioning to organic and to build and strengthen organic markets.

 A woman stands near strawberry plants.

NRCS Assistance

NRCS provides assistance to organic producers in a wide variety of areas, from biodiversity to weed management.


How to Get Assistance

Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?

Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.

how to get started

To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.

NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.

We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:

  • To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
  • To meet other eligibility certifications.

Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.

Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.

As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:

  • An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
  • A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
  • A farm tract number.

If you don’t have a farm tract number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm tract number if you’re interested in financial assistance.

NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants.

If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.

Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.

Find Your Local Service Center

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to find your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit offices.usda.gov.