News release from the USDA:
$1.28 MILLION AVAILABLE FOR FLORIDA ORGANIC PRODUCERS
Application Deadline is March 4, 2011
Gainesville, FL., December 21, 2010 – Organic agricultural producers in Florida may qualify for technical and financial assistance through a National Organic Initiative. The 2011 Organic Initiative provides assistance to USDA National Organic Program (NOP) certified organic producers as well as producers transitioning to organic production. It also meets the Obama Administration’s promise to encourage more organic agriculture production.
In Florida, $1.28 million in funding for the Organic Initiative is available to qualified applicants as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) which is administered by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible national goals. Applications for EQIP are accepted continuously, but for Organic Initiative funding consideration during Federal fiscal year 2011, applications should be submitted by March 4, 2011.
NRCS has offered this special initiative to organic producers for the last 2 years. “We want to help these farmers protect the natural resources on their land and create conditions that help foster organic production,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS State Conservationist for Florida.
Under Organic Initiative contracts, producers are paid 75 percent of the cost for the approved organic conservation measures they implement. Beginning, limited resource, and socially disadvantaged producers are paid 90 percent. The program provides up to $20,000 per year per person or legal entity, with a maximum total of $80,000 over six years. Producers are required to develop and carry out an Organic System Plan (OSP) or carry out practices consistent with an OSP. The assistance targets practices such as planting cover crops, establishing integrated pest management plans, or implementing nutrient management systems consistent with organic certification standards. For more information: www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/organic/2011 .
Interested producers should visit their nearest USDA - NRCS office as soon as possible. To find the nearest office go to: http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app. Additional information on NRCS and other programs is available at www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov or at your local USDA NRCS office.