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June 30 deadline for organic crop program

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ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's organic farmers and those in transition to organic have only two more weeks to sign up for a new program that will help them adopt conservation practices on their farms. Minnesota's Natural Resources Conservation Service is one of only a few in the nation to extend the deadline for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative to June 30.

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Minnesota Department of Agriculture Organic Specialist Meg Moynihan is encouraging organic growers to apply for the program, saying it's a "win-win" that can provide environmental benefits while helping organic producers improve their farm performance.

"Organic farmers are highly motivated to protect natural resources," Moynihan said. "Soil is one good example."

She said, "Organic farmers know that healthy, productive soil is absolutely critical to making their farms perform better. They shouldn't miss this funding opportunity to help them prevent erosion and improve soil quality as well as explore other conservation practices."

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative offers per-acre payments intended to help producers start or expand their use of production practices that offer conservation benefits.

Some of these practices are cornerstones of organic farming including extended crop rotations, cover cropping, pest and nutrient management planning, and managed grazing. Payments vary by conservation practice and range from $2.95 to $58 per acre.

"This Organic Initiative is an important outreach effort for NRCS. I urge producers to hurry into their local NRCS offices to learn about the program and sign up," said William Hunt, State Conservationist.

"Producers should not wait until the last minute in case they need to provide information to USDA to show that they are eligible for Farm Bill Program benefits," he said.

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