Want A Piece Of That Grant?
By Tim Dunne, NRCS
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in New Jersey has participated in a national NRCS effort for two years now known as our Organic Initiative. Sign-up for the 2010 program ended on March 12, 2010, but we anticipate another round will be held next year. National Organic Program (NOP) certified organic producers, as well as producers in the process of transitioning to organic production, are encouraged to apply for the next round of the program.
Under this initiative, a producer’s conservation goals may include transitioning to organic agriculture, aiding pollinator populations, increasing biodiversity including soil-borne organisms, controlling invasive species, enhancing water quality or other resource-enhancing goal. Practices that are linked to one of these resource concerns may be eligible for a conservation payment.
Farmers who want to apply for financial assistance may receive up to $20,000/year and are limited to $80,000 over a six-year period. Payments are not authorized for activities or practice components which are solely production related and are not linked to an identified resource concern. Payments may not be used for any costs related to organic certification.
NRCS conservationists will work with you to develop a conservation plan based on your organic system plan and farm goals. The plan will specify a timeline to implement the conservation practices identified in the OSP. Conservation planning assistance is free and does not require participation in cost-share programs.
Program payment rates for the organic initiative are 75% of the typical cost of implementing the practice. If the applicant is a beginning farmer, socially disadvantaged or limited resource producer, the rates are 90%. Payments are made after conservation practices are implemented to the standards agreed to in advance.
Practices eligible under the initiative include:
- Deer Control Fence (up to $20,000)
- Cover Crop (winter or summer cover)
- Conservation Cover (pollinator habitat or permanent cover between rows)
- Conservation Crop Rotation (using a roller-crimper)
- Field Borders or Filter Strips
- Leaf Mulching
- Nutrient or Pest Management
- No-Till Crop Production
- Windbreak or Shelterbelt Establishment
For more information about NRCS and our conservation programs visit one of the local NRCS field offices. A local NRCS conservationist can meet with you, walk your farm and discuss your soil, water, air, plant and animal resource concerns. Visit the NRCS web site at: http://www.nj.nrcs.usda.gov/ for more information and a list of local office phone numbers and addresses.