Resource Conservation Funding for Illinois Organic Producers available through May 20, 2011

llinois USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announces another funding opportunity for certified organic producers and those transitioning to organic production to implement resource conservation practices on their agricultural operations. While applications are accepted on a continuous basis, the cutoff date for this application period is set for May 20, 2011.

Fiscal year 2011 marks the third year of USDA’s Organic Initiative, and in Illinois, nearly $1 million is available to help producers plan and install conservation practices that address natural resource concerns in ways that are consistent with organic production. For example, conservation practices might include planting cover crops, establishing integrated pest management plans, constructing seasonal high tunnels, or implementing nutrient management systems consistent with organic certification standards.

Eligible producers include those certified through USDA’s National Organic Program, those transitioning to certified organic production, and those who meet organic standards but are exempt from certification because their gross annual organic sales are less than $5,000.

Organic Initiative funding is provided through NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Beginning, limited resource, and socially disadvantaged producers may obtain additional assistance.

Producers interested in applying for EQIP Organic Initiative funding must submit applications through their local NRCS Service Center. Additional information about other conservation solutions and program options is available here.