Organic EQIP Initiative for 2011
CALLING ALL ORGANIC & TRANSITIONING FARMERS
Apply by March 4, 2011
Farmers who are already organic and farmers who are at any stage of transition to organic farming can apply for federal funding to help pay for organic farm practices that are also considered conservation practices. The funding is being offered through the USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). There is a dedicated pool of money available to NY, separate from the overall EQIP funding for the State. If you are already certified, check the list of eligible practices to see if there are some that you may not currently use to the fullest. You can apply for funding to pay for these.
How to Apply
If you have previously applied for a Farm Service Agency (FSA) or the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) program in your county in the past, you may already be halfway through the paperwork. You need to go to your local county NRCS and FSA office to sign up. There is more than one form and this is still a relatively new program, so your patience will pay off as you work with your county service providers to sort through the paperwork.
The information on how to apply for New York State producers will be available starting Jan 3, 2010. Go to: www.ny.nrcs.usda.gov and search for “Organic EQIP.”
Do you need to find your county NRCS office phone number? Go to: www.ny.nrcs.usda.gov/contact Look at the listing on the left of the page and click on “Find a Service Center”.
What Practices are being funded?
Remember, this is a conservation program, so the practices that are funded are conservation farm practices that organic farmers use. The federal NRCS has listed some practices for federal consistency and NY NRCS has added additional, important organic practices. The complete list of specific practices and the cost sharing rate should be on the NY NRCS website.
How much money is available?
Producers are limited by statute to $20,000 per year for up to 5 years or an $80,000 cap under Organic EQIP. Funding for similar practices may be available under the general EQIP program, but ranking for each program is different. Producers should compare funding amounts and likelihood of funding allotment when they decide which program to apply to for specific practices on their farms. Some organic conservation practices have not been funded under the Organic EQIP program in the past, such as composting facilities, more as a cost allocation method (to ensure that the money goes to as many famers as possible) than for any other reason.
Are you already organic? Don’t Worry About Competing with Transitioning Farmers
The program dollars are separated into two pools, one for existing certified organic farmers and one for farmers transitioning to organic.
Contact your county NRCS office to apply. If you apply this year and funding runs out or programs change next year, make sure your application is filed so that it is current for next year’s funding cycle as well.
Having trouble? Please feel free to call NYS with questions or problems.
Sarah Johnston, Organic Agriculture Specialist
More Information About Organic EQIP
The Organic EQIP Initiative is national and consequently, several national organizations are providing information about the program.
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
NSAC provides excellent basic program information and updates on this and other federal programs affecting sustainable agriculture.
There is a lot of information about EQIP, a long-standing conservation program that is known for being paper-heavy. For a good look at the program, including how the organic initiative fits in, see their website and overview.
New York State Organic Farming Links