USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Dave White has announced a new Organic Initiative funding opportunity for organic producers and also for those producers who are transitioning to organic, according to a press release issued Monday, April 11, 2011 by the NRCS.
Practical Farmers of Iowa member Aaron Lehman, who grows organic crops and also some conventional row-crops on his farm in Polk County in central Iowa, has signed up for the Organic Initiative funds in the past. "It made our transition on the new organic acres much easier to take financially," says Lehman.
The Lehmans farm 600 acres and have switched 190 of those acres to organic production. "The initiative has compensated us for practices that we are required to do in our organic plan. It's nice to be rewarded for taking on those extra practices and get some help from NRCS," he says. Your local NRCS office is the place to contact if you want to ask questions or speak to someone about signing up for conservation programs. NRCS is located in your county USDA office.
Apply now, as the cutoff date for this application period is May 20
While applications are accepted on a continuous basis, the cutoff date for this application period is May 20, 2011.
"This additional opportunity will allow more producers to get assistance in protecting the natural resources on their land and creating conditions that help foster organic production," White said in his announcement.
He says, "Up to $50 million is available nationwide this year to help producers to plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns in ways that are consistent with organic production. For example, conservation practices might include planting cover crops, establishing integrated pest-management plans, constructing seasonal high tunnels, or implementing nutrient management systems consistent with organic certification standards."
Additional information can be found on the NRCS site: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/news/releases/2011/organics_applications_4.2011.html
Practical Farmers of Iowa staff can also help answer questions
In Iowa, Sarah Carlson is available to help. She will answer questions and guide farmers through the application process and encourages those who are interested to contact her at the Practical Farmers of Iowa office, 515.232.5661 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call 515.232.5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org.