Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Federal Financial Assistance Available for Building High Tunnels & Becoming Certified Organic


Here are two opportunities that I wanted to be sure you all knew about.  Especially with Amy's Kitchen (big organic food processing company; see previous blog post) moving into Greenville, SC and looking to purchase lots of locally grown, certified organic produce, these two federal initatives might be of interest to you:
                                                                                                     
USDA SEEKING APPLICATIONS IN NORTH CAROLINA FOR SEASONAL HIGH TUNNEL INITIATIVE

Raleigh, NC. (Nov. 21,2011) – Longer growing seasons, conserving natural resources and providing a greater supply  of locally grown food are all advantages for the farmers who participle in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative.  The initiative is offered under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and funding availability is to be available soon for eligible applicants.

Farmers can submit applications for the initiative at anytime throughout the year. However, NRCS will begin the application ranking process for the EQIP Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative on February 3, 2012 for possible funding. Applications are ranked based on greatest environmental benefit.  For an application to be considered for ranking all land and producer eligibility requirements must have been met.

The initiative will provide opportunities for farmers to establish seasonal high tunnel systems for crops and for numerous conservation practices that benefit natural resources. Applicants who apply for the national EQIP initiative can also apply for conservation practices under the state administered Farm Bill conservation programs.

The 2008 Farm Bill provides additional incentives for farmers, who are beginning, have limited resources, or who are socially disadvantaged. Such farmers can receive up to 90 percent of the costs associated with planning and implementing certain conservation practices and up to 30 percent of expected costs may be provided in advance.

Farmers should visit their local USDA Service Center today to apply for available funding for Farm Bill programs and initiatives; locations are listed on-line at http://offices.usda.gov or in the phone book under Federal Government, U.S. Department of Agriculture. General program information is available on the NRCS North Carolina website at www.nc.nrcs.usda.gov.  The USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.





Contact: Stuart Ashby Lee, Phone: 919.873.2107

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USDA SEEKING APPLICATIONS IN NORTH CAROLINA FOR ORGANIC INITIATIVE
Raleigh, NC. (Nov. 22, 2011) USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking applications for a national initiative being offered in North Carolina. Administered under the 2008 Farm Bill’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the EQIP Organic Initiative helps certified organic producers and those transitioning to organic production meet their conservation goals. Technical and financial assistance will help producers plan and implement conservation practices to allow their organic operations to be environmentally sustainable.
Funding for the EQIP Organic Initiative will be available soon. Now is the time for certified organic producers and those transitioning to organic productions to work with their local USDA Service Center to establish eligibility and apply so that their applications can be considered when funds become available.
EQIP is primarily used to provide financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices to address soil, water, air, plant, animal, and energy resources.  An organic provision targets organic producers and producers transitioning to organic production:
  • Assistance is for conservation practices related to organic production
  • Assistance is limited to $20,000 per year and $80,000 during a six year period
  • Producers are required to develop and carry out an Organic System Plan (OSP) or carry out practices consistent with an OSP
  • Producers must be pursing an organic certification or in compliance with their organic certification The initiative is available for farmers who are certified organic, transitioning to certified organic, or organic exempt according to USDA’s National Organic Program regulations. Farmers can submit applications for the initiative anytime throughout the year. However, NRCS will begin ranking eligible EQIP Organic Initiative applications on February 3, 2012 for possible funding.  Applications are ranked based on greatest environmental benefit.  For an application to be considered complete for ranking all land and producer eligibility requirements must have been met.  Applications that are not complete by the first ranking date will be deferred to the next ranking period, which is anticipated to occur on March 30 and June 1, 2012.
Under the EQIP Organic Initiative applicants can apply for numerous conservation practices that benefit natural resources including: experimenting with cover crops and crop rotations, installing intensive grazing infrastructure (grazing plans, internal fencing and water lines), establishing wildlife and pollinator friendly habitat, and installing seasonal high tunnels.  Applicants who apply for the national initiative can also apply for conservation practices under the general EQIP program.
Farmers should visit their local USDA Service Center today to apply for available funding for Farm Bill programs and initiatives; locations are listed on-line at http://offices.usda.gov or in the phone book under Federal Government, U.S. Department of Agriculture. General program information is available on the NRCS North Carolina website at www.nc.nrcs.usda.gov.  The USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.  Contact: Stuart Ashby Lee.  Phone:  919.873.2107.

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