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Almost $400,000 in conservation funds available for organic and transitioning growers and high tunnels



Nevada agricultural producers who are certified organic or transitioning to organic production may qualify for technical and financial assistance through a special initiative administered by USDA‘s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Approximately $400,000 in financial assistance will be available to eligible producers in Nevada as part of the agency’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Producers must submit applications by March 19 to be considered for funding during fiscal year 2010.

“We are also offering the high tunnel pilot project under this Organic Initiative,” said Bruce Petersen, state conservationist for the NRCS in Nevada.  “Agricultural producers can apply for one or more high tunnels, up to 2,178 square feet, to be installed on land that has been cultivated for the past two years.”  The High Tunnel Pilot Project is being offered in selected states to help NRCS test the conservation benefits of high tunnels for three years. Producers can receive about 75 to 90 percent of the cost of a high tunnel and related conservation practices.  Other requirements and restrictions apply.

Under the Organic Initiative, producers can receive up to $20,000 per year or $80,000 over six years through this initiative. The Organic Initiative targets conservation practices such as cover crops, nutrient and pest management, and prescribed grazing. “There are more than a dozen practices that can qualify for funding through this initiative,” Petersen said.

The Organic Initiative is a nationwide special initiative to provide financial assistance to certified organic producers as well as producers transitioning to organic production. “The initiative is part of our agency’s commitment to improving and expanding organic acres nationally,” said Petersen.  “It helps producers transition to organic by removing some of the risk.”

Applicants must either have an organic system plan or certify that they are working toward one. Organic producers may also apply for assistance under general EQIP.  Producers who receive NRCS contracts under the initiative are paid 75 percent of the cost of the organic conservation measures they implement.  Beginning, limited resource and socially disadvantaged producers are paid up to 90 percent.

Producers interested in the Organic Initiative or the High Tunnel Pilot Project should contact their local USDA Service Center for more information before the March 19 sign-up deadline. More information can be found online at www.nv.nrcs.usda.gov.

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