The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS) is working to raise awareness about available programs for organic growers. Monica Jones, district conservationist covering Alachua, Bradford and Union counties in Florida, exhibited at the inaugural Organic Food & Farming Summit in Gainesville on September 17–19 to do just that.
Jones says NRCS has an initiative in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQUIP) that benefits organic growers or those who would like to transition to organics. This program allows farmers to acquire organic certification, as well as complete conservation practices on their farms. Jones adds that the NRCS is promoting its available organic initiatives, which range from cover crop incentives to pest management incentives.
There’s also an NRCS initiative for seasonal high tunnels. According to Jones, producers can apply to get seasonal high tunnels on their farms without an acre limitation.
Frogsong Organics, located in Alachua County, participated in the NRCS high tunnel program. With the program’s help, Frogsong installed two high tunnels on its farm. A representative from Frogsong Organics says the tunnels worked out well in the production system by helping get some protected agriculture in the ground. She added that the high tunnels were helpful with season extension and protecting crops that grow better without a lot of irrigation. Frogsong Organics will be applying for the program again soon and looks forward to working with the NRCS again.
Jones encourages any Alachua, Bradford or Union county growers to visit her Gainesville office if they have questions about the organic initiatives.
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