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EQIP Organic Initiative

Organic Initiative

The National Organic Initiative, funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), is a voluntary conservation program that provides technical and financial assistance for organic farmers and ranchers, or those interested in transitioning to organic. NRCS can help organic producers improve their operations or help producers transition to organic using a conservation plan tailored to their needs.

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.

Assistance begins with the development of a conservation plan based on a needs assessment and each farmer’s unique goals. The plan includes conservation practices, systems or activities, and the resource concerns identified in the assessment.

Common conservation practices, systems or activities planned 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 while 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

Additional information about the Organic Initiative:

  • Financial assistance is limited to $20,000 per fiscal year and no more than $80,000 total over a rolling six year Farm Bill
  • 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 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.