Alternative Solutions

The lack of young farmers and ranchers is threatening the future of agriculture in Nebraska. Plenty of young people want to get into farming and ranching, but few can afford the high startup costs of land, machinery, and operating capital.
A solution to get a foot-hold in agriculture today is serving organic markets. And a program exits to assist organic efforts. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), has set aside $1.5 million in EQIP funds to help Nebraska organic producers and those who are transitioning to organic production.

Nebraska farmers and ranchers who are transitioning to organic production, or who are currently certified organic can still apply for the EQIP Organic Initiative as the deadline has again been extended until April 16, 2010.

Perhaps the most attractive feature of this initiative is the 90% cost-share for beginning, limited-resource and socially-disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. For beginning farmers and ranchers thinking about transitioning to organic, that means that if they qualify for this initiative they could receive as much as 90% of the cost of transitioning through this EQIP program.

Approved farmers and ranchers can receive up to $20,000 per year or $80,000 over six years to implement conservation practices.

The Center for Rural Affairs has posted a 2010 EQIP Organic Initiative fact sheet at - - and the Center is also operating a Farm Bill Helpline (402-687-2100) to provide additional assistance.