USDA Announces $50 Million in Grants for Farmers to Switch to Organic Practices

Irrigation Over Crops

The US Department of Agriculture recently announced that $50 million in grant money was being made available to farmers who wanted to switch from conventional to organic farming practices.ย  USDA Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan made the announcement last week of the grant money being made available.

The funding for the program is through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and fulfills an Obama administration promise to encourage organic farming practices.ย  It could also be a first step in organic agriculture gaining a more widespread acceptance in the federal government and within the farming community.

You can read the full press release from the USDA here.

While $50 million might not sound like much in the grand scheme of things, especially in the wake of $700 billion bailouts being thrown about, it is certainly a start.ย  And $50 million well spent can go a long way in subsidizing current organic farmers and assisting conventional farmers as they switch to organic practices.

One small drawback to this free grant money is that the application period is only until May 29, not a lot of time.ย  Grant money is to be awarded in two general categories – food producers making the initial switch to organic agriculture, and established organic producers changing over additional land or creating additional conservation or organic farming practices.ย  The hope is also that this will not be a one time grant, but an annual amount of money that can be rerouted from the billions of dollars spent on other inefficient farm subsidy programs.

Small steps can create large changes, so while this may seem like small potatoes, it’s a small step in the right direction.ย  Remember to use your food dollars to vote for your priorities.ย  Buy local organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible.ย  Grow as much of your own food as you can, and embrace local growers, producers, and artisans.

For another victory by the voice of the peoples in speaking to our government, read about the People’s Garden at the White House.ย  And for other examples of interactions between citizens and government, check out Urban Farmer Cited for Illegal Composting or Texas Town Enforces Chicken Ban.

Image credit: flyhighplato at Wikipedia under a Creative Commons License.

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8 thoughts on “USDA Announces $50 Million in Grants for Farmers to Switch to Organic Practices”

  1. After Big Ag felt threatened by the White House garden and sent that well publicized letter to “Mrs. Barak Obama” (yes, that old fashioned) defending their practices, I wonder what they will say now?

  2. Boooooo… What about Sustainable Farming? It has been proven that Organic Farming actually consumes more water, produces more carbon emissions, and produces foot no healtier for the consumer than Sustainable Farming.

    Another victory for “Big Organic”

  3. Organic and eco-friendly farming can feed the world,”It is not necessarily about producing more food, but about producing more quality nutrition through less energy use and pollution,”To feed the world, we will have to scale up productivity, but in an ecological way, by polluting less and making use of low-cost technologies.Climate change will affect us for the next 30 years, even if we take good measures now, so we do need efficient adaptation plans.Other strategies include soil conservation, incentives for sustainable production practices and payment for carbon reduction and avoided deforestation

  4. John Chappell

    I agree that if all the money were to be snatched up by the “Big” organic producers, it wouldn’t be the most effective program. But here’s language from the USDA on how they will determine eligibility for the program:

    “Under the Organic Initiative required minimum core conservation practices will be determined by specific resource concerns. The practices are: Conservation Crop Rotation; Cover Crop; Nutrient Management; Pest Management; Prescribed Grazing; and Forage Harvest Management.”

    A lot of that seems like sustainable agriculture as well as organic.

    Also, can you point to the studies that you refer to? I’d love to read them. Thanks!!!

  5. Organic farming will bring back healthy soils, which will filter into our ground water,ponds, lakes aquifers and then oceans.
    Organic farming is not only healthier for humans and animals in consumption, but also for our soils.
    We have been influneced by large corcoporations into beliveing that chemical fertilizers, and pest control are our only alternative to productive farming. We where educated with right intensions,however the old synthetic fertlizers are harmful and wrong practices, and now we are paying the price though pollution and our health.
    Organic Framing is the best method. I am happy to know that our goverment supports this venture so that convetional farms can tranistion into organic farming with ease.

  6. Organic farming is the only way to stop chemical contamination of surface and groundwaters as well as minimize errosion. Healthy soils equal healthy plants. Healthy plants have an electrical charge measured by an electrical conductivity meter that deter pests.

    Organic farming can be less expensive than chemical-based farming. The Japanese restricted agricultural chemicals more than 20 years ago. They have developed new techniques and products to maximize agricultural yields. For example, the Japanese dairy industry has the world’s highest yields per animal yet they feed their animals 50% less than US dairies. Check out the following website They are trying to introduce Japanese agricultural techniques to US agricultural.

  7. Bruce E. Popken

    Now your add is greeat but when we try to get the forms there is nothing but schooling format.

    Is this all there is, some of the small farmers are already organic, but need help, with the price of grain today in commercial market, they will go back to it, less work, less margine of profit do to quanity produced, they can make more in commercial market.

    Please send information on program, forms, and who can quilify.

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