Are you looking to transition your growing operation to organic production? Are you worried about potential dips in income or yield during the transition period? The USDA may be able to help.

Earlier this month, the USDA announced new details about its $75 million investment in conservation assistance for those looking to make the shift toward organic farming. The process will be overseen by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency that has played an active role in helping producers and landowners conserve their natural resources since the 1930s. Now, as part of the multi-agency Organic Transition Initiative, NRCS will offer financial and technical assistance to qualified growers looking to adopt the new organic management standard.

The majority of the USDA’s $75 million investment will go directly to farmers. “NRCS will dedicate $70 million to assist producers with a new organic management standard under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP),” reads a press release serviced by the Natural Resource Conservation Service on April 10th. To help producers adopt the new organic standard, NRCS will be offering hands-on workshops in organic production practices like composting, crop rotation, nutrient management, and cover cropping. Although more detailed information has yet to be announced, the agency “may provide foregone income reimbursement for dips in production during the transition period.” That means producers can focus on integrating organic practices into their growing operations without worrying about a decreased harvest.

Meanwhile, the remaining $5 million from the USDA’s $75 million investment will be spent on creating regional networks overseen by “technical organic experts” who will retain their positions for five years. These experts will host hands-on organic training sessions, answer pertinent questions, and serve as mentors to growers as they transition their operations.

Who’s eligible to apply? “Eligible producers include farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and other producers beginning or in the process of transitioning to organic certification,” says NRCS. To help level the playing field, the agency will also offer higher levels of financial assistance to “undeserved producers,” including those with limited resources and social disadvantages.

Application deadlines will vary state-by-state, but NRCS will announce details later this year. After the announcement, growers are encouraged to apply through NRCS at their local USDA Services Centers. To the service center nearest you, visit the website here:

Questions? Contact our team!

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