Speaking to the USDA National Organic Standards Board Tuesday, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced the availability of $50 million for a new initiative to encourage more organic agriculture production.
"Assisting organic producers is a priority of the 2008 Farm Bill as well as for Secretary Vilsack and the Obama Administration," said Merrigan. "The objective of this initiative is to make organic food producers eligible to compete for EQIP financial assistance."
Under the Organic Initiative required minimum core conservation practices will be determined by specific resource concerns. The practices are: Conservation Crop Rotation; Cover Crop; Nutrient Management; Pest Management; Prescribed Grazing; and Forage Harvest Management. States must consider using any appropriate practice that meets the resource concern on a particular operation.
"Organic farmers have not been able to fully utilize federal conservation programs such as EQIP," said Senate Ag Committee Chair Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. "The 2008 Farm Bill and the funding announcement will support sound conservation among farmers wanting to get into organic agriculture. There is a limited application time frame and I encourage organic farmers to take advantage of this program."
Applications received from organic producers or producers in transition to organic farming will be accepted between May 11 and May 29.