Hello aspiring farmers !

You may have already heard of this other initiative, and I must say that I personally haven’t looked into it much, but it seems like a funding opportunity for people just getting started with organic farming

  • An Alert from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
  • Organic Initiative Funds Now Available!
  • First Sign up Period: May 11 – May 29

The Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) has created a special $50 million pool of funding for a new Organic Initiative under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The Initiative will provide payments and technical assistance to transitioning and existing organic farmers who adopt NRCS conservation practices used in organic production systems.

Eligible Farmers:

  • Farmers just beginning or in the process of transitioning to organic production
  • Existing certified organic farmers who want to transition additional acres or animals;
  • Existing certified organic farmers who need to adopt additional conservation measures;
  • Producers who sell less than $5,000 in agricultural products and are thus exempt from formal certification are still eligible for Organic Initiative payments.

The program will be available in every state and county. Sign up begins for this special pool of funds on Monday, May 11th and continues through May 29th. Organic or transitioning farmers who have already applied for EQIP funding may choose to move their application into the special organic pool which will have higher payment rates for some practices than the regular EQIP program and a $20,000 per year ($80,000 over 6 years) payment limit. Costs of technical assistance provided by NRCS will not count against the payment limitation.

Transitioning farmers are also being offered an opportunity to develop a “conservation activity plan” as part of their EQIP Organic Initiative contract. A conservation activity plan will be needed to meet National Organic Program certification requirements and is an important step toward certification.

All applications received during this sign up period will be ranked using national and in some cases state level criteria related to how well the proposed contract contributes to conserving soil, water quality and other resource concerns. Farmers who are awarded a contract will then be eligible for technical assistance to assist with implementation of the practices. NRCS has set aside an additional $5 million for technical assistance for this initiative.

You can find contact information for your local local NRCS office here.

A number of NSAC Member organizations are available to answer producer questions about the Organic Initiative.  Visit their websites for more inforamtion:  Organic Farming Research Foundation, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, National Center for Appropriate Technology, Center for Rural Affairs, Agriculture and Land Based Training Association, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Kansas Rural Center, Florida Organic Growers.

Organic Initiative Funds Now Available!