from the New Mexico News Connection - A statewide news service for New Mexico
New Mexico organic farmers, and those who want to be, have a few more weeks to apply for federal help to get them through the long transition process. The cut-off date for the Organic Initiative, part of the federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program, is March 4th.
Organic 'seed money' of up to 20-thousand dollars is available for New Mexico organic producers and farmers who are making the switch. Applications for the money are due March 4th. It's part of the 2008 farm bill. Tracey Bruckner is with the Center for Rural Affairs. She says the Organic Initiative makes all the difference to farmers making the changeover, "You need assistance in designing a conservation-based system that works for an organic operation, and just making that work financially, as well as also finding the technical assistance you need to help you put into place the things that are needed, so it’s definitely an important part of the puzzle."
She says applicants will need to submit a self-certification form to the US Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service acknowledging they agree to develop and implement conservation practices, "You have to fill out the basic application form by March 4th and then you also need to be in contact with a organic transition specialist."
In fiscal year 2010, the NRCS obligated nearly $24 million through the Organic Initiative to help producers implement conservation practices like planting cover crops, establishing pest management plans or implementing nutrient management systems. For assistance making an application contact the Center for Rural Affairs at 402-687-2100 or visit their website at http://www.cfra.org/.
Editor's Note: A guide for farmers and ranchers is available from the Center at http://files.cfra.org/pdf/guide-organic-conservation.pdf
Eric Mack reporting, firstname.lastname@example.org