Application Deadline for USDA Organic Initiative Approaching

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Russell Morgan reminds local organic farmers and those transitioning to organic production practices to contact their local NRCS office soon to find out if they are eligible for the agency’s Organic Initiative.

June 1, 2012 is the cut-off date for applications to be considered in the third ranking period of fiscal year (FY) 2012, although applications are always accepted on a continuous basis.

The Organic Initiative is funded through NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Interested farmers must submit their applications through the local USDA NRCS Service Center.

“Although Delaware has a small population of organic growers, NRCS is committed to helping these farmers implement conservation practices that have been proven beneficial to organic production,” said Morgan. “This Organic Initiative has made financial and technical resources readily available to local growers to improve the management and productivity of their operation.”

Since FY 2009, NRCS has provided $172,000 in financial assistance to Delaware certified organic producers, those who want to make the transition to organic production, and producers who sell less than $5,000 in organic products annually. Approximately $50 million is available nationwide in FY 2012.

The EQIP Organic Initiative offers a wide array of conservation practices specifically designed for organic production. The top six Organic Initiative conservation practices are cover crops, nutrient management, integrated pest management, seasonal high tunnels, crop rotation, and fencing.

Changes for 2012 include three ranking periods for current and transitioning producers; a threshold ranking score that can speed up approval for qualified applicants; required conservation practices that promote the consistent use of those practices; and an expanded list of conservation activity plans.

Learn more about the Organic Initiative and other programs and services at www.de.nrcs.usda.gov. To apply, contact your local USDA Service Center. In Sussex County, call 302-856-3990 x 3; in Kent County, call 302-741-2600 x 3; in New Castle County, call 302-832-3100 x 3.

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