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Organic Agriculture and Conservation

Organic Agricultural Production

Financial and technical help available for organic agriculture

Organic lettuce field in Phoenix, Arizona

The organic program is a nationwide special initiative to provide financial assistance to National Organic Program (NOP) certified organic producers, as well as producers in the process of transitioning to organic production. Eligible producers can apply for assistance to help offset the costs of adopting practices to improve resource conservation on organic operations.

Completed applications must be submitted by June 1, 2012 to be considered for the Fiscal Year 2012 organic initiative. If applications are submitted prior to June 1, earlier ranking and funding approval for qualified applications is available.  Funding for the organic initiative comes from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

To participate in the program, growers work with NRCS to develop a conservation plan that includes a detailed description of the conservation activities and practices they want to implement on their land. Examples of conservation practices that may benefit organic producers include:

  • Irrigation and water management: including such items as: efficient irrigation upgrades, irrigation scheduling, and tailwater recovery systems
  • Grazing management: fencing, stockwater systems, and range and pasture planting
  • Nutrient management: manure storage structures, planned nutrient applications, and soil testing
  • Pest management: crop and pest monitoring activities, and planned pesticide applications
  • Erosion control: grade control structures, diversions, and water and sediment control basins
  • Wildlife habitat enhancement: stream buffers, fish screens, fish passage, and upland wildlife habitat establishment

The conservation plan becomes the basis for the program application. Those who have previously developed a conservation plan with NRCS will already have the conservation planning step completed. Those who have not previously participated in NRCS programs should schedule a meeting to discuss the options and develop a conservation plan before moving forward. All information provided to NRCS for conservation planning purposes is strictly confidential.


New opportunities with the 2011 organic program in Arizona

All natural resource concerns can be addressed through this initiative, which could not be done in previous years. Irrigation improvements may be included if a primary resource concern is addressed. Primary resource concerns include the following for the organic program:

  • Soil Condition

  • Soil Erosion

  • Domestic Animals

  • Plant Condition

  • Water Quality

  • Fish and Wildlife

In addition to water quantity, air quality and energy conservation improvements can also be funded if a primary resource concern is included.

Conservation Activity Plans are another option being offered this year through the organic program to producers who want technical assistance on a specific resource concern. Through a CAP, NRCS funds are used to pay a portion of the cost for a private technical service provider to develop plans outlining conservation treatment alternatives.

More Information...

NRCS has 24 field offices in Arizona. Find the NRCS field office nearest you or call Dennis Kimberlin, NRCS Farmbill Programs Specialist, at 602-280-8800 for more information.





Webinar Links and Handouts:

Organic applications due Nov. 1, 2011

Funding Available for Organic and Transitioning Organic Producers: Applications Due June 1, 2012

Certified organic producers and those transitioning to organic production are encouraged to apply for conservation funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Applications must be submitted by June 1, 2012 to be considered for 2012 funding through the NRCS organic initiative.