Monday, April 21, 2014
   
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Quick work needed to apply for EQIP

Farmers and ranchers transitioning to organic as well as established organic producers have another opportunity to apply for Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative funding to assist their organic efforts.

The deadline for this application period is May 20.

The USDA recently announced that they will, for the third consecutive year, invest $50 million in funding for the EQIP Organic Initiative, which provides a 75% share of the cost of implementing organic conservation measures to those who qualify—90% for beginning, limited-resource and socially-disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

In 2010 NRCS obligated $24 million nationally to assist organic farmers and ranchers with organic transition. And nearly $1 million of that total went to to Nebraska farmers and ranchers.

This year, $1.5 million is available for Nebraska producers to plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns in ways that assist with transitioning agricultural land and production to organic certification.

“We commend NRCS and USDA leadership for listening to the concerns of organic farmers and applaud their new initiative,” commented Traci Bruckner, Center for Rural Affairs. “It’s unfortunate though that farmers have a very small window to sign up for the program and it’s during the busiest time for farmers—the middle of planting season.”

According to Bruckner, farmers and ranchers can receive compensation for six core conservation practices (conservation crop rotation, cover cropping, integrated pest management, nutrient management, rotational grazing, and forage harvest management) under the program.

These are available on a nationwide basis. Farmers who want to apply for these funds should visit their local district county Natural Resource Conservation Service office. And the Center for Rural Affairs is gearing up to help producers as much as possible during this application period.

“We created an EQIP Organic Initiative fact sheet available online and we operate a Farm Bill Helpline where producers can call 402-687-2100, ask for the Farm Bill Helpline and speak to a real person who can help producers receive assistance in accessing new programs like the EQIP organic initiative.

The Farm Bill Helpline can also assist farmers and ranchers with the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Cooperative Conservation Partnerships Initiative, the Value Added Agricultural Market Development Program and a host of beginning farmer and rancher programs.

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