Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to johnc@cfra.org.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Financial incentives offered for farmers and ranchers to convert to “organic”!

Informational Meetings in Northeast Nebraska on June 8, 10 & 13.

-- from the desk of Russ Gifford, Director Communications/Development
Center for Rural Affairs


LYONS, NE – Organic prices are usually 100-200% of conventional grains, but to sell products in the “organic” market, farmers and ranchers must be certified.

“That’s great news for producers, but the biggest obstacle for many farmers and ranchers is the 36-month transition period,” says Martin Kleinschmit of the Center for Rural Affairs. No unauthorized chemicals can be applied during the three-year changeover. That represents a potential loss in income during those three years, and more importantly, a change in management practices, he added.

The Nebraska Natural Resources & Conservation Service (NRCS) announced today an Organic Incentives Program option for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). This program will provide financial incentives for farmers and ranchers to convert conventional cropland to certified “organic” status. Farmers can apply for this program at any time, but to be eligible for approval this year, must have their applications submitted to NRCS prior to July 31, 2005.

Information meetings to help interested persons learn more about the program are scheduled for:
June 8, 2005 -- 10 am to noon – Hartington Public Library; Hartington, NE
June 10, 2005 – 10 am to noon – Knox County Extension Office; Center, NE
June 13, 2005 – 10 am to noon – Allen Fire Hall Meeting Room; Allen, NE

What does the program offer farmers and ranchers?
- An annual payment of $50 per acre for 3 years, for up to 120 acres of cropland.
- After three years, the operator must receive certification from a USDA approved organic certification agency.
- Acres in any phase of the conversion process are eligible for the incentive payment; however, farmers and acreages already certified organic are not eligible.

This EQIP program will provide incentives to offset financial risks, due to possible yield reductions and/or lender/landlord agreements. Incentives can help offset expenses for additional machinery and facilities not now a part of many conventional farms’ portfolio. These needs may include additional tillage or weed control equipment, storage facilities, and equipment needed to manage a more diverse crop mixture.

Applicants to the Organic Incentive Program can participate in a three-year education program designed to provide detailed information on what is required to certify organic and the practices needed to qualify. Applicants to this program will compete with other EQIP programs on the basis of environmental impact.

Applications can be submitted any time at NRCS offices in these counties: Boyd, Cedar, Knox, Dixon, Perkins, Chase, and Dundy. Review and ranking deadlines are January 31, March 31, May 31, and July 31.

National Organic Program (NOP) rules are available at USDA’s home page: www.usda.gov, click on “Agriculture”, then Organic Certification.

For more information, contact your local NRCS office; the Center for Rural Affairs Office in Hartington (Martin Kleinschmit 402-254-6893) or Lyons (Mike Heavrin 402-687-2100).

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