March 9, 2012
The second of three cut-off dates for organic, on-farm energy, and seasonal high tunnel cost share is coming up on March 30. The Organic, On-Farm Energy, and Seasonal High Tunnel Initiatives are offered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
NRCS will have three ranking periods in 2012 for the On-Farm Energy, Organic, and Seasonal High Tunnel Pilot Initiatives, which will end on February 3, March 30, and June 1. These three initiatives are offered in all 50 states, along with the Caribbean Area and the Pacific Basin.
At the end of each ranking period, NRCS will evaluate all proposals submitted by that date for each initiative and determine which proposals receive funding.
The Organic Initiative provides funds to certified and transitioning organic producers to cover conservation measures specific to organic systems. It was first offered in 2009. Over the past three years of the program, the Organic Initiative has obligated $36.3 million (FY 2009), $23.8 million (FY 2010), and $22.4 million (FY 2011) nationwide. More than 1,660 producers have now signed up for the Initiative.
The top five Organic Initiative conservation practices to date are cover crops, nutrient and pest management, seasonal high tunnels, crop rotation, and fencing.
For more detailed information on the FY 2011 sign up, you can download a state-by-state Organic Initiative breakdown of the number of acres treated, contracts signed, dollars obligated, and practices used. For information on the 2012 sign-up see the National Bulletin on the Organic Initiative.
The On-Farm Energy Initiative was initially introduced in 2010, at which point its availability was limited to 29 states. Since then, it has expanded to all 50 states and the US territories. It funds the development of Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP), or farm energy audits, which evaluate energy use on a farming operation. This includes evaluating energy use in the field, such as in farming equipment and farming processes, as well as energy use at farm headquarters, such as in buildings and facilities.
The Seasonal High Tunnel Pilot Initiative was first offered in 2010. NRCS provides funds through the Initiative to help producers design and install high tunnels that extend the growing season without using any electrical, heating, and/or mechanical ventilation systems. In FY 2010, this initiative funded 2,395 high tunnel projects, and in FY 2011, it funded 2,035 high tunnel projects. For more detailed information on the FY 2011 sign up, you can download a breakdown of the number of high tunnels by state.
Interested producers should contact their local NRCS office soon to apply for any of these initiatives for this second round. Applications for the second ranking period of 2012 are due at NRCS offices by close of business on March 30, 2012. The NRCS Office Locator is available at http://go.usa.gov/Uo8.