Funding available for organic producers
The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service is offering financial assistance in fiscal year 2011 to Colorado organic producers and aspiring organic producers to address the resource concerns identified in their organic systems plan. Applications for enrollment into this special initiative are being accepted until March 4.
Interested landowners should contact their local NRCS field office located in the USDA service center in their county (listed online at http://offices.usda.gov). Field office staff will be available to answer questions on the initiative and offer technical assistance on a conservation plan.
"A conservation plan is beneficial to the landowner and increases funding opportunities. Applications submitted with a conservation plan receive higher priority status," said John Knapp, area conservationist, La Junta, Colo.
The 2008 farm bill (The Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008) provided funding to specifically help organic farmers and agricultural producers transition to organic farming. $1.8 million is available to encourage more organic agriculture production in Colorado.
Practices that could be implemented include irrigation water management, nutrient and pest management, cover crops, conservation crop rotation, residue and tillage management, field borders, field strips, and prescribed grazing.
Eligible producers could receive up to $20,000 per year with a total $80,000 limit for the life of the contract. Eligible producers who are beginning farmers/ranchers or who have limited resources are also encouraged to apply.
The 2011 Organic Initiative is open to current and transitioning organic producers. Transitioning producers must submit a self-certification letter with a statement of agreement to develop and implement a conservation plan consistent with an OSP. The name of a USDA accredited certifying agent working with the producer must accompany the application.
Certified organic producers must submit a copy of their current OSP as well as provide the name and contact information of the USDA accredited certifying agent who certified the organic operation.
For additional information regarding the fiscal year 2011 Organic Initiative, please call and make an appointment with your local NRCS field office (listed online at http://offices.usda.gov) or visit www.co.nrcs.usda.gov.