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

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Organic Incentive Program Announced

- from the desk of Martin Kleinschmit,

State-wide Organic Incentive Program Announced

The Nebraska Natural Resources & Conservation Service (NRCS) is launching an Organic Incentives Program option for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) which will provide financial incentives, statewide, for farmers and ranchers to convert conventional cropland and grassland to certified “organic” status.

The program authorizes:
• An annual payment of $50 per acre for 3 years, for up to 120 acres of cropland.
• Compliance to USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) is required annually.
• Acres in any phase of the conversion process are eligible for the incentive payment however; farmers and acreages already certified organic are not eligible.
• Applications can be submitted any time at county NRCS offices.
• The first ranking/review deadline is November 30, 2005.

Organic prices are often 100-200% of conventional grains. To sell products in the “organic” market, farmers and ranchers must comply with the National Organic Rule. The biggest obstacle for many farmers and ranchers is the 36-month transition period prior to certification.

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

NRCS is providing the financial incentive to make the transition easier. Meanwhile, the Center for Rural Affairs will be mirroring this program with a 3-year training program for organic farmers and ranchers. Designed to provide the skill training and information sharing to make the transition a success, the program will deal with fertility, weed and pest control, access to premium markets, and the essentials needed to qualify for organic certification.

for more information post a comment or question here or contact
John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action


  • At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    is this available in states other than Nebraska?

  • At 9:48 PM, Blogger Center for Rural Affairs said…

    All I have been able to find out is that this program is available or becoming available soon in Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. I am sure there are other states and have asked Martin Kleinschmit to provide some more information on the EQIP organic transition program in other states. I will post more information here tomorrow.

    John Crabtree,

    Center for Rural Affairs
    Values. Worth. Action.

  • At 6:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    While I support organic and buy organic, to think organic agriculture is going to save dieing areas of rural Nebraska is looking at the world with rose colored glasses. It doesn't amount to a hill of beans, organic or not, compared to the magnitude of our region's decaying rural areas.

  • At 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    who has ever said that organic agriculture is the savior of rural Nebraska? The last person's comment makes no sense. A small number of farmers (relative to the total) try to find ways to actually make their farmers more PROFITABLE instead of just more productive. And you come along and say that since they can't, by themselves, save every farmer and rural community that their business isn't worth "a hill of beans"? What the hell have you done to "save" rural Nebraska? I think organic farmers do more than their fair share. Perhaps you should step and carry some water for a change!

  • At 3:30 PM, Blogger Center for Rural Affairs said…

    Martin Kleinschmit confirmed the information I had found earlier, that Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota are the only states that we know of with programs like this that use EQIP to provide funding for farm transition to organic.

    But, if you live in another state (other than Nebraska, Iowa or Minnesota) Martin also wanted to urge you to check with you local NRCS office - perhaps you could put in a plug for your state to develop a program similar to Nebraska's or Iowa's.

    John Crabtree,

    Center for Rural Affairs
    Values. Worth. Action.

  • At 1:42 PM, Blogger loci said…

    Organic farming has a long ways to go before it will replace factory farms, but each one is a step in the right direction. In addition to this it can be used as a niche marketing business that can draw other forms of economic income to areas that need it, tourism, small business related to marketing organic goods and ways of life. If farms can come up with ways to intergrate product with the area and people to form a community that endorses organic culture in a faceted environment it can be a place to start for rural communities.

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  • At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The outlook for energy is not an endless supply in the very near future and the impact is never more evident in the current price increases today.

    Organic is just one production system that reduces the energy use in versus energy output. I strongly suspect that conventional agriculture will evolve more to an organic or other production system from what you see now and easily within the next ten years.

    This is aside from the potential of organic to contribute to rural development as noted here.

    The status quo is a powerful opiate.... is it not?


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