USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Garry Lee reminds potential applicants to contact their local NRCS office soon to find out if they are eligible for the agency's Organic Initiative. Applications for the final ranking period of 2012 are due at NRCS offices by close of business on June 1, 2012.
"This is a great opportunity for organic producers to add new conservation activities that will improve their land and protect our natural resources," says Lee.
Nationwide, NRCS has nearly $50 million in financial and technical assistance available to 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.
Part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Organic Initiative offers a wide array of conservation practices specifically designed for organic production. The top five Organic Initiative conservation practices are cover crops, nutrient and pest management, seasonal high tunnels, crop rotation, and fencing.
Changes for the 2012 signups 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.
A listing of NRCS local offices in Michigan is available online at http://www.mi.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/Field%20Offices.html.