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 support.

·         Ensure that Organic Conversion Support is available in all 50 states.

·         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 www.regulations.gov
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:
[log in to unmask].

For more information, read the EQIP Interim Final Rule

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