Fields of Opportunity

The steady, significant growth of organic farming and ranching in Nebraska cannot and should not be ignored. Recently the USDA demonstrated their renewed commitment to organic farming and ranching by announcing another $50 million in funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative, which provides a 75% share of the cost of implementing organic conservation measures to those who qualify - 90% for beginning, limited-resource and socially-disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
Nebraska farmers and ranchers involved in organic production or transitioning to organic have until March 12th to apply for the EQIP Organic funding for 2010 through their local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office.  The Center for Rural Affairs has provided an EQIP Organic Initiative fact sheet at (http://www.cfra.org/2010-eqip-organic-initiative) and a Farm Bill Helpline (402-687-2100) to assist individuals in applying.
 
Moreover, the Center has delivered a tested organic education program to 35 Nebraska NRCS staff, helping prepare them to assist farmers and ranchers participate in conservation programs such as the EQIP Organic Initiative.
 
Nebraska was allocated $1.5 million out of last year's $50 million but ultimately received $2.7 million when unused allocations in other states were shifted where demand was greater.  That total helped 75 farms and ranches either get started in organic production or enhance their established operations, putting Nebraska in the top five states for contracts and funding awarded.  The rewards to those farmers and ranchers, their rural communities and our food system will be with us for a long time.

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