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National Organic Initiative

Overview

The National Organic Initiative, funded through EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that provides technical and financial assistance for organic farmers and ranchers, or those interested in transitioning to organic.

  • Certified Organic - producers with a USDA National Organic Program (NOP) Organic Certificate or proof of good standing from a USDA accredited certifying agent. The certification must be maintained for the life of the EQIP contract.
  • Exempt from Certification of the NOP - producers who are selling less than $5,000 a year in organic agricultural products and are exempt from NOP’s certification. Exempt organic producers are eligible for the EQIP Organic Initiative if they self-certify that they agree to develop and work toward implementing an Organic Systems Plan (OSP), as required by the NOP.
  • Transitioning to Organic - producers who are in the process of transitioning to organic. Transitioning producers self-certify that they agree to develop and work toward implementing an OSP, as required by the NOP.

Common conservation practices, systems or activities planned include:

  • Developing a Conservation Activity Plan for Transition that can be part of the OSP
  • Improving irrigation efficiency
  • Establishing buffer zones
  • Creating pollinator habitat
  • Improving soil health and controlling erosion
  • Developing a grazing plan and supportive livestock practices
  • Enhancing cropping rotations
  • Nutrient and pest management activities
  • Managing cover crops
  • Installing a high tunnel system

Additional information about the Organic Initiative

  • Financial assistance is limited to no more than $140,000 total over the 2018 Farm Bill, 2019 through 2023.
  • ​Participants who are not certified or exempt from certification, agree to develop and work towards implementing an Organic System Plan to meet National Organic Program organic certification through USDA.
  • Interested applicants for the National Organic Initiative should complete the Self Certification Worksheet and provide a copy to the local NRCS office.

The following sections include the applicable land uses, resource concerns, and conservation practices for the ranking pool.

Land Uses

The descriptions below are the general NRCS land use definitions - applications should fit within, but do not need to exactly match, these descriptions. Below are the applicable land uses for the ranking pool.

  • Crop: Land used primarily for the production and harvest of annual or perennial field, forage, food, fiber, horticultural, orchard, vineyard, or energy crops.
  • Forest: Land on which the primary vegetation is tree cover (climax, natural or introduced plant community) and use is primarily for production of wood products or non-timber forest products.
  • Range: Land used primarily for the production of grazing animals. Includes native plant communities and those seeded to native or introduced species, or naturalized by introduced species that are ecologically managed using range management principles.
  • Pasture: Land composed of introduced or domesticated native forage species that is used primarily for the production of livestock. Pastures receive periodic renovation and cultural treatments, such as tillage, fertilization, mowing, weed control, and may be irrigated. Pastures are not in rotation with crops.
  • Farmstead: Land used for facilities and supporting infrastructure where farming, forestry, animal husbandry, and ranching activities are often initiated. This may include dwellings, equipment storage, plus farm input and output storage and handling facilities.
  • Associated Agricultural Lands: Land associated with farms and ranches that are not purposefully managed for food, forage, or fiber and are typically associated with nearby production or conservation lands. This could include incidental areas, such as odd areas, ditches and watercourses, riparian areas, field edges, seasonal and permanent wetlands, and other similar areas.
  • Grazed: Where grazing animals impact how land is managed.
  • Irrigated: Where an operational irrigation system is present and managed to supply irrigation water.
  • Wildlife: Where the applicant is actively managing for wildlife.

Resource Concerns

The goal of conservation planning is to help each client attain sustainable use and sound management of soil, water, air, plant, animal, and energy resources, based on related human considerations (SWAPAE+H).  Below is a list of priority resource concerns for the ranking pool.

SWAPAE+H
Resource Concern Category
Resource Concern
Soil
Concentrated Erosion
Bank erosion from streams, shorelines or water conveyance channels
Classic gully erosion
Ephemeral gully erosion
Soil Quality Limitation
Aggregate instability
Compaction
Concentration of salts or other chemicals
Organic matter depletion
Soil organism habitat loss or degradation
Subsidence
Wind and Water Erosion
Sheet and rill erosion
Wind erosion
Water
Field, Sediment, Nutrient, and Pathogen Loss
Nutrients transported to groundwater
Nutrients transported to surface water
Pathogens and chemicals from manure biosolids, or compost applications transported to groundwater
Pathogens and chemicals from manure biosolids, or compost applications transported to surface water
Sediment transported to surface water
Field Pesticide Loss
Pesticides transported to groundwater
Pesticides transported to surface water
Salt Losses to Water
Salt transported to groundwater
Salt transported to surface water
Source Water Depletion
Groundwater depletion
Inefficient irrigation water use
Surface water depletion
Storage and Handling of Pollutants
Nutrients transported to groundwater
Nutrients transported to surface water
Petroleum, heavy metals, and other pollutants transported to groundwater
Petroleum, heavy metals, and other pollutants transported to surface water
Weather Resilience
Drifted Snow
Naturally available moisture use
Ponding and Flooding
Seasonal high water table
Seeps
Air
Air Quality Emissions
Emissions of airborne reactive nitrogen
Emissions of greenhouse gases - GHGs
Emissions of ozone precursors
Emissions of particulate matter (PM) and PM precursors
Objectionable odor
Plants
Degraded Plant Condition
Plant productivity and health
Plant structure and composition
Plant Pressure
Plant pest pressure
Animals
Aquatic Habitat
Aquatic habitat for fish and other organisms
Elevated water temperature
Livestock Production Limitation
Inadequate livestock water quantity, quality, and distribution
Terrestrial Habitat
Terrestrial habitat for wildlife and invertebrates
Energy
Inefficient Energy Use
Energy efficiency equipment and facilities
Energy efficiency farming/ranching practices and field operations

 

Conservation Practices

NRCS conservation practices eligible for financial assistance through this ranking pool are listed in the below table. For more information about NRCS conservation practices visit the following website link: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/technical/?cid=NRCSDEV11_001020.

For certain conservations practices, a limit to the amount of financial assistance has been established in certain regions. Practice payment caps are established in consultation with local partners and to allow limited financial assistance support to reach more participants. Please contact your local field office if you have questions. A maximum payment amount per contract or practice is not allowable. Practice payment caps are applicable per agreement item.

Practice Code
Conservation Practice Name
Practice Units
Lifespan (Years)
104
Nutrient Management Plan - Written
no
1
110
Grazing Management Plan - Written
no
1
118
Irrigation Water Management Plan - Written
no
1
216 Soil Testing no 1
309
Agrichemical Handling Facility
no
15
311
Alley Cropping
ac
15
314
Brush Management
ac
10
315
Herbaceous Weed Treatment
ac
5
317
Composting Facility
no
15
320
Irrigation Canal or Lateral
ft
15
324
Deep Tillage
ac
1
325
High Tunnel System
sq ft
5
326
Clearing and Snagging
ft
5
327
Conservation Cover
ac
5
328
Conservation Crop Rotation
ac
1
329
Residue and Tillage Management, No-Till
ac
1
330
Contour Farming
ac
5
331
Contour Orchard and Other Perennial Crop
ac
10
332
Contour Buffer Strips
ac
5
333 Amending Soil Properties with Gypsum Products ac 1
334 Controlled Traffic Farming ac 1
338
Prescribed Burning
ac
1
340
Cover Crop
ac
1
342
Critical Area Planting
ac
10
345
Residue and Tillage Management, Reduced Till
ac
1
348
Dam, Diversion
no
15
350
Sediment Basin
no
20
351
Water Well Decommissioning
no
20
355
Groundwater Testing
no
1
356
Dike
ft
20
362
Diversion
ft
10
367
Roofs and Covers
no
10
373
Dust Control on Unpaved Roads and Surfaces
sq ft
1
374
Farmstead Energy Improvement
no
10
378
Pond
no
20
380
Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment
ft
15
381
Silvopasture Establishment
ac
15
382
Fence
ft
20
386
Field Border
ac
10
388
Irrigation Field Ditch
ft
15
390
Riparian Herbaceous Cover
ac
5
391
Riparian Forest Buffer
ac
15
393
Filter Strip
ac
10
395
Stream Habitat Improvement and Management
ac
5
410
Grade Stabilization Structure
no
15
412
Grassed Waterway
ac
10
422
Hedgerow Planting
ft
15
428
Irrigation Ditch Lining
ft
20
430
Irrigation Pipeline
ft
20
436
Irrigation Reservoir
ac-ft
15
441
Irrigation System, Microirrigation
ac
15
442
Sprinkler System
ac
15
443
Irrigation System, Surface and Subsurface
ac
15
447
Irrigation and Drainage Tailwater Recovery1
no
15
449
Irrigation Water Management
ac
1
460
Land Clearing
ac
10
462
Precision Land Forming
ac
10
464
Irrigation Land Leveling
ac
15
466
Land Smoothing
ac
10
468
Lined Waterway or Outlet
ft
15
472
Access Control
ac
10
484
Mulching
ac
1
490
Tree/Shrub Site Preparation
ac
1
500
Obstruction Removal
ac
10
512
Pasture and Hay Planting
ac
5
516
Livestock Pipeline
ft
20
520
Pond Sealing or Lining, Compacted Soil
no
15
521
Pond Sealing or Lining, Geomembrane or Geosynthetic Clay Liner
no
20
528
Prescribed Grazing
ac
1
533
Pumping Plant
no
15
557
Row Arrangement
ac
5
558
Roof Runoff Structure
no
15
560
Access Road
ft
10
561
Heavy Use Area Protection
ac
10
570
Stormwater Runoff Control
no
1
572
Spoil Disposal
ac
1
575
Trails and Walkways
ft
10
578
Stream Crossing
no
10
580
Streambank and Shoreline Protection
ft
20
585
Stripcropping
ac
5
587
Structure for Water Control
no
20
590
Nutrient Management
ac
1
595 Pest Management Coservation System ac 1
600
Terrace
ft
10
601
Vegetative Barrier
ft
5
603
Herbaceous Wind Barriers
ft
5
606
Subsurface Drain
ft
20
607
Surface Drain, Field Ditch
ft
15
608
Surface Drain, Main or Lateral
ft
15
610
Salinity and Sodic Soil Management
ac
1
612
Tree/Shrub Establishment
ac
15
614
Watering Facility
no
20
620
Underground Outlet
ft
20
638
Water and Sediment Control Basin
no
10
647
Early Successional Habitat Development/Management
ac
1
649
Structure for Wildlife
no
5
650
Windbreak/Shelterbelt Renovation
ft
15
657
Wetland Restoration
ac
15
659
Wetland Enhancement
ac
15
670
Energy Efficient Lighting System
no
10
672
Energy Efficient Building Envelope
sq ft
10
740
Pond Sealing and Lining, Soil Cement
no
20
808 Soil Carbon Amendment ac 1

1Conservation practice, 447 – Irrigation and Drainage Tailwater Recovery, is an irrigation tailwater recovery system and practice payment rates will be based on eligible conservation practices included in the system.

Interested Applicants

For more information about EQIP, how to apply and program eligibility, interested applicants should contact a NRCS field office in the county which you own land or where you have an agricultural operation. 

Visit https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/ to find the NRCS representative for your county.