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 video
- NRCS Resources for Organic Producers
- Additional USDA Resources
- Contact Information
Watch our video for an overview of how NRCS assists organic famers.
Learn about the technical and financial assistance NRCS offers for organic producers.
Browse the different areas in which NRCS provides assistance — from biodiversity to weed management.
- 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.
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
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.
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.
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.