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Organic Initiative

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What Is The Organic Initiative?

The Organic Initiative provides financial assistance to implement a broad set of conservation practices to assist organic producers in addressing resource concerns. Assistance begins with the development of a conservation plan based on a needs assessment and each farmer’s unique goals. The plan resource concerns identified in the assessment and related conservation practices, systems or activities to address concerns. Examples include:

  • Improving irrigation efficiency;
  • Developing a Conservation Activity Plan for Transition that can be part of the OSP;
  • 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; and
  • Installing a high tunnel system

Eligibility

  • 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.

Additional information about the Organic Initiative:

  • Financial assistance is limited to no more than $140,000 total over the 2018 Farm Bill years, 2019 through 2023.
  • Producers must meet all other eligibility requirements associated with EQIP
  • ​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

Although EQIP supports a wide variety of conservation practices, your local NRCS field office staff will work with you to develop an organic plan that includes practices that fits your resource needs as part of the Organic Initiative.

Organic and transitioning farmers and ranchers may also apply for assistance through general EQIP or other conservation initiatives. 

For more information about NRCS resources for organic farmers, see the Organic Farming web page.

Ready to improve your organic operation or transition to organic?  Check out Apply for EQIP.

Self-Certification Worksheet

A self-certification form must be used by each producer applying for EQIP Organic Initiative assistance showing that they meet one of the following categories: 1) Certified Organic, 2) Exempt from Certification and 3) Transitioning to Organic.

Organic Ranking Criteria

Applications for assistance are prioritized for funding based on national, state and local ranking criteria that address natural resource concerns.

More Information

Contacts

Stephanie Payne
Organic Specialist for Eastern Oregon (John Day, Umatilla, Snake River, High Desert and Deschutes basins)
541-699-3201
stephanie.payne@usda.gov

Stacey Cooper
Organic Specialist for Western Oregon (North Coast, Central Coast, Willamette and Southwest basins)
503-438-3144
stacey.cooper@usda.gov

Arun Jani
NRCS State Agronomist
1201 NE Lloyd Blvd, Suite 900
Portland, Oregon  97232
Phone:  503-414-3241
Email:  arun.jani@usda.gov

Local Contact
Please contact the District Conservationist in the USDA Service Center nearest the location of your property.