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Organic Initiative Sign Up Period Extended in Nebraska
Nebraska Ag Connection - 04/05/2010

Steve Chick, state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Nebraska announced the cutoff date for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative has been extended to April 16, 2010. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) NRCS, which administers EQIP, has set aside $1.5 million in EQIP funds to help Nebraska organic producers and those who are transitioning to organic production.

"The sign up period has been extended to provide more time for landowners to take advantage of this great opportunity. Farmers and ranchers transitioning to organic agriculture, or who are currently certified organic, may apply for financial assistance through EQIP. If approved, they can receive up to $20,000 per year or $80,000 over six years to implement conservation practices," Chick said.

Applications for the EQIP Organic Initiative are taken continuously throughout the year, but to be considered for Fiscal Year 2010 funding, producers need to have an application signed and returned to their local NRCS office by April 16, 2010. Funding selections will be made on or before May 1, 2010, from those applications received.

"EQIP applicants who are certified organic will need to bring a copy of their organic system plan (OSP) and the name and address of their USDA accredited certifying agent. Applicants who are transitioning to organic will certify their intentions to transition to organic and must provide the name of the USDA accredited certifying agent they have contacted," Chick said.

A number of conservation practices may be funded through the EQIP Organic Initiative, including cover crops, crop rotations, fencing and watering for rotational grazing, high tunnels for seasonal crops, and field borders.

Some participants are eligible to receive a higher payment rate; those are limited resource farmers, beginning farmers, and socially disadvantaged groups. For more information, go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/SLB_Farmer/.

Visit your local USDA Service Center and talk to the NRCS staff about the EQIP Organic Initiative, conservation planning, and other programs available to help protect natural resources. For more information about EQIP, go to http://www.ne.nrcs.usda.gov/programs and click on EQIP Organic Initiative.

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