March 4 is the deadline for organic farmers, or those who are transitioning to organic production, to get in line for more than $1 million in subsidies available in the state.
The funding is available through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative to help farmers meet conservation goals.
“EQIP has always been available for organic producers to treat resource concerns on their land, but the 2008 Farm Bill allows for dedicated funds to be set aside to assist organic producers,” NRCS Richmond County District Conservationist Vilma Mendez explained.
Farmers must sign-up by the impending deadline. Applications can be found at the Richmond County NRCS field office, located at 123 Caroline St., Suite 300, Rockingham. Mendez can also be reached by phone at (910) 997-8244.
Farmers are advised it may be next year before funding becomes available for those who miss the March 4 deadline.
A number of conservation practices may be funded through the EQIP organic initiative, including cover crops, crop rotations, prescribed grazing, forage harvest management, nutrient management, pest management and seasonal high tunnels, better known as “hoop houses.”
Under organic initiative contracts, producers are paid a percentage based on an average cost of the organic conservation measures they implement. Beginning, limited resource and socially disadvantaged producers are paid 90 percent.