FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 6, 2010
For More Information Contact:
Paige Buck, State Public Affairs Specialist, (217) 353.6606
Going Organic in 2010? Don’t Go It Alone!
NRCS EQIP New Organic Initiative Has Helpful Options
Of the new conservation options available in the new Farm Bill, one targets
producers with organic operations and those ready to make the transition to
organic. For these Illinois producers, now is the time to visit with the local
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office and start the process
before the January 15, 2010 sign-up deadline hits.
The new emphasis on benefits of “locally grown” food is based on increased
consumer awareness and interest in agricultural products—meat and
produce—certified as organic. More people and food production conglomerates
demand organic food options. Just look at the organic food section at your
grocery store—it’s getting bigger. The market is here.
For some, diversifying crops and moving away from a monoculture ag environment
is not an option. For others, it might be a smart and profitable fit.
Take Dave Bishop, in Logan County with a 300-acre operation. He grows a variety
of specialty crops, grazes cattle and raises poultry. Dave defines himself as an
unconventional organic entrepreneur. He successfully made the switch to organic
and keeps records to document and research what works on his ground and why.
Besides being blessed with a patient temperament, Dave relies heavily on the
support of other organic producers and his local conservation team at the USDA
“You don’t ‘go organic’ overnight,” Dave explains. “It’s called a transition
because it takes time. You’re changing the basic elements in your soil and
changing the way you manage nearly every single aspect of your operation—that
takes at least five to seven years to do it right.”
Because it’s not something you do solo, he offers some advice on how to tap into
the help and guidance that’s out there, such as the Natural Resources
Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
EQIP now offers conservation technical help and financial assistance for organic
operators. Just like traditional ag operations, smaller venues and organic
farms, in particular, face their share of natural resource problems. Often, the
solutions needed are more complex and labor-intensive because regular “fixes”
are not an option.
Illinois producers who contemplate getting into new organic market trends or
those who are already organic who need help with specific erosion or management
issues, can now add NRCS and new Organic options of EQIP to their “to do” list.
Illinois NRCS State Conservationist Bill Gradle says NRCS’ specialists and new
EQIP options can address the needs of organic growers—control soil erosion,
manage nutrients, improve water quality or wildlife. “With NRCS and EQIP, you
can ensure your productivity and sustainability and make it work,” Gradle adds.
Another Illinois organic success story is the Glazik family’s 400-acre “Cow
Creek Farm” in Ford County, IL. This operation is located near the start of the
Middle Fork of the Vermilion River.
As of January 1, 2010, 100% Glazik’s ground is certified organic cropland. The
rest is in pasture, natural areas, and other conservation practices, including
trees. Glazik’s row crops are in a long and healthy rotation—corn, beans, wheat,
oats, and pasture—good for the soil AND the livestock.
Using years of experience, guidance from others, and technical assistance of
USDA, NRCS, and a variety of other state and federal conservation programs,
Glazik plans to explore even more options through the new Conservation
Stewardship Program (CSP) and EQIP as he pursues a grazing management plan and
use of a rotational grazing system.
“We have a special and diverse farm here,” Glazik explains. “It’s dynamic. It’s
always changing. Organic farms are complex because we constantly find new issues
that require new and innovative solutions. But, that’s part of the joy behind
our organic farm—every single day is different and every day we learn something
While EQIP sign-up is continuous, NRCS reminds producers that deadlines for
submitting applications are approaching fast—January 15th—so don’t put it off
too long. Visit www.il.nrcs.usda.gov
to see the new EQIP Organic Initiative factsheet or stop by your county USDA
Service Center and visit with your District Conservationist to get all the
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