1.      The USDA Makes EQIP More Organic Friendly

The USDA recently released their interim Final Rule (IFR) for the
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). USDA was directed by
Congress in 2008 Farm Bill to make EQIP more inclusive of organic
agriculture practices-including implementing a new provision that assists
farmers converting to organic farming systems and rewarding the conversation
benefits of organic farming. However, USDA fell far short of meeting this
directive in their IFR.

The public now has until March 16th to send comments to USDA regarding the
EQIP Interim Final Rule. Please send comments in by March 16th, 2009-urge
the USDA to make the following changes to the Final Rule for EQIP.

·         Acknowledge organic agriculture as a new National Priority for the
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), as mandated by Congress in
the 2008 Farm Bill. The Chief of NRCS should issue a Directive to all State
Conservationist reinforcing this change.

·         Clarify that the $80.000 cap for Organic Conversion Support
contracts applies only to the organic conversion plans, and does not cover
all organic operations apply to EQIP. Also, clarify that the regular cap of
$300,000 applies to organic operations who are not seeking conversion

·         Ensure that Organic Conversion Support is available in all 50

·         Ensure that Organic Conversion Support applications are ranked and
processed as a separate subcategory.

How to Submit Comments

Include “Docket Number NRCS- IFR-08005” at the top of your correspondence or
in the subject line of your email.

Mail to:
Financial Assistance Programs Division
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service
1400 Independence Avenue, SW.
Room 5237S
Washington, DC 20250-2890.
Fax to: (202) 720-4265

Online instructions:
1. Go to
2. Type "Environmental Quality Incentives Program" into the search bar and
click "go". Several results will be displayed on the next screen. The result
with Document ID number "CCC_FRDOC_0001-0065" is the Interim Final Rule for
3. Click on "Send a Comment or Submission" and follow the instructions on
the next screen. If you want to read the text of the Interim Final Rule,
click on either the PDF or HTML icon next to "View this Document."

Let us know if you submit comments! Email Tracy Lerman, Policy Organizer:
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For more information, read the EQIP Interim Final Rule

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