Contact: Stuart A. Lee, 919.873.2107
Raleigh, NC - The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in North Carolina is currently signing-up farmers and growers who are transitioning to organic production, or are currently certified organic in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (Organic Initiative). In North Carolina, NRCS has more than $1 million in EQIP Organic Initiative financial assistance available to help farmers meet this conservation goal.
"EQIP has always been available for organic producers to treat resource concerns on their land," said NRCS Assistant State Conservationist Greg Walker, "but the 2008 farm bill allows for dedicated funds to be set aside to assist organic producers."
Farmers must sign-up for EQIP Organic Initiative by March 4th to be eligible for funds that are currently available. Though applications for general EQIP and EQIP Organic Initiative are taken continuously throughout the year, it is important that farmers contact their local NRCS field office today and apply by the March 4th deadline for available funds. If farmers interested in EQIP Organic Initiative miss the March 4th deadline, it could be next year before financial assistance is made available again for farmers in North Carolina.
A number of conservation practices may be funded through the EQIP organic ranking category, including cover crops, crop rotations, prescribed grazing, forage harvest management, nutrient management, pest management, and seasonal high tunnels better known as hoop-houses.
Under Organic Initiative contracts, producers are paid a percentage based on an average cost of the organic conservation measures they implement. Beginning, limited resource, and socially disadvantaged producers are paid 90 percent. Small scale organic producers with less than $5000 in gross agricultural income are exempt from some national criteria.
Visit with NRCS staff at your local USDA Service Center today to learn more. You can find contact information for your local USDA Service Center by visiting the NRCS North Carolina website at www.nc.nrcs.usda.gov