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EQIP options for organic farmers spotlighted


Pendleton class will offer advice on tapping funding


By MATTHEW WEAVER


Capital Press


Organic farmers and those considering making the transition to organic production will learn about special options available to them through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.


The Natural Resources Conservation Service will sponsor a meeting for interested landowners at 2 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Blue Mountain Community College, room ST200 in Pendleton, Ore.


NRCS soil conservation technician Jim Smith said there is a funding pool for organic EQIP separate from the rest of the program.


"It's been kind of underutilized in the past in our area," he said. "So we're trying to get that word out there that there may be opportunities to take advantage of."


The competition may be less intense in the organic program than in the general bidding, Smith said.


The organic part of the program comes with its own set of practices. Smith said the organic program pays 75 percent of cost share compared to 50 percent in the general program.


Historically underserved producers, such as those with limited resources, beginning farmers and socially disadvantaged farmers, receive 90 percent of the cost of their project, Smith said.


Some EQIP conservation practices that may benefit organic production systems include conservation crop rotation, cover crops, pollinators, micro-irrigation, nutrient management and compost facilities.


Signup is continuous, but the next deadline to be considered is March 4. Smith advised growers to meet with their local NRCS field office and submit their application with the USDA Farm Service Agency.


Applications will be ranked to be considered for funding.


Smith hopes producers leave the meeting with the idea that money is available to help them switch to organic or improve their current organic operation.


"We have this funding available, and we want to get out on the ground and see good practices they can take advantage of," he said.


For more information, call Smith at 541-278-8049, ext. 109.






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