By STEVE BROWN
April 19 is the deadline for farmers to apply for financial assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service in fiscal year 2013.
The agency's Organic Initiative, which helps certified organic producers as well as those transitioning to organic, is part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which helps growers by funding a portion of the cost to implement specific conservation practices.
Producers contract with the NRCS to carry out the practices within a certain time period. Such practices include cover crops, mulching, irrigation water management and nutrient management.
NRCS will evaluate the applications and sign contracts with producers with the highest ranking applications. While organic farmers are invited to sign up for any and all of the NRCS conservation programs, special funding authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill is set aside just for organic farmers and those transitioning to organic.