Skip Navigation

Organic Initiative

Maryland's organic farmers are implementing long standing and new, innovative conservation practices to protect the natural resources on their farms through a USDA initiative to help producers of all commodities meet their conservation goals. The 2008 Farm Bill specifically includes help to organic producers through the Organic Initiative.

Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) the Organic Initiative provides financial assistance to National Organic Program (NOP) certified producers, as well as producers in the process of transitioning to organic production. Eligible applicants also include producers who fall under the exemption category in the National Organic Program (NOP) regulation.

  • Certified organic producers must provide NRCS with a copy of their Organic System Plan (OSP) and Organic Certification must be maintained for the life of the contract.
  • Transitioning to Organic must self-certify that they agree to develop and implement an Organic System Plan (OSP) and provide NRCS the contact information of the applicant’s USDA accredited organic certifying agent before an EQIP contract can be approved.
  • Organic producers selling less than $5,000 a year in organic agricultural products are exempt from organic certification. Exempt organic producers are eligible for the EQIP Organic Initiative. Applications should be ranked with certified organic producers provided that they self certify that they agree to develop and implement an OSP.

Organic producers applying through this initiative can receive up to $20,000 per year or $80,000 over six years. Farmers may also compete for the larger pool of EQIP funds that allow for up to $300,000 over six years.

Approved Conservation Practices

Approved OI Practices Practice Code
Alley Cropping 311
Brush Management 314
Herbaceous Weed Control 315
Animal Mortality Facility 316
Composting Facility 317
Conservation Cover 327
Conservation Crop Rotation 328
Residue and Tillage Management, No Till/Strip Till/Direct Seed 329
Contour Farming 330
Contour Orchard and Other Perennial Crops 331
Contour Buffer Strips 332
Prescribed Burning 338
Cover Crop 340
Critical Area Planting 342
Residue and Tillage Management, Mulch Till 345
Well Water Testing 355
Diversion 362
Pond 378
Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment 380
Silvopasture Establishment 381
Fence 382
Field Border 386
Riparian Herbaceous Cover 390
Riparian Forest Buffer 391
Filter Strip 393
Grade Stabilization Structure 410
Grassed Waterway 412
Hedgerow Planting 422
Irrigation System, Micro irrigation 441
Irrigation System, Sprinkler 442
Irrigation Water Management 449
Access Control 472
Mulching 484
Forest Harvest Management 511
Forage and Biomass Planting 512
Livestock Pipeline 516
Prescribed Grazing 528
Drainage Water Management 554
Heavy Use Area Protection 561
Spring Development 574
Stream Crossing 578
Stripcropping 585
Structure for Water Control 587
Nutrient Management 590
Integrated Pest Management 595
Terrace 600
Tree/Shrub Establishment 612
Watering Facility 614
Water and Sediment Control Basin 638
Water Well 642
Seasonal Tunnel System for Crops 798
Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition CAP 138

Visit the National Organic Program Initiative website for more information.


NRCS Field Offices, located in the USDA Service Centers in each Maryland county, can provide additional details and program assistance concerning Organic Initiative eligibility requirements, practices, and payments.

Program Contacts

Mikel Williams Hawkins
Farm Bill Specialist
Phone: 443.482.2923

Jackie Byam
Assistant State Conservationist- Programs
Phone: 443.482.2927