MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama farmers transitioning to organic agriculture — or those already certified organic — may apply for assistance under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative through March 12, according to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
While the program offers continuous sign-up, applications for 2010 funding must be received by the cut-off date.
To be eligible, producers are required to develop and carry out an Organic System Plan of conservation practices. Approved applicants may receive up to $20,000 per year, not to exceed $80,000 in a six-year period.
The NRCS offers conservation practices to assist organic producers address resource concerns related to soil condition, soil erosion, domestic animals, plant conditions, water quality and fish and wildlife.
This year the program includes funds for seasonal high tunnels, also known as ―hoop houses.
High tunnels provide significant advantages to owners of small farms, limited resource farmers and organic producers,‖ says Dr. William Puckett, Alabama State Conservationist.
Growers are given the opportunity to address existing resource concerns, such as soil and plant conditions, while providing the added benefit of expanding the growing season for locally grown crops.
Interested producers should visit their nearest USDA Service Center to determine eligibility.
Individuals are not eligible for EQIP until they have completed the Farm Bill eligibility requirements, and are urged to contact their local NRCS or Farm Service Agency Office to begin this process.
NRCS field offices are listed in the telephone directory under U.S. Department of Agriculture or on-line at offices.sc.egov.usda.gov.