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Organic 'Seed Money' Dries Up Soon

January 31, 2011

BARRE, Mass. - Massachusetts organic farmers - and those who want to be - have a few more weeks to apply for federal help to get them through the long transition process.

Applications for the "Seed money" of up to $20,000, part of the 2008 farm bill, are due March 4.

Traci Bruckner, assistant director of the Center for Rural Affairs' rural policy program, says the Organic Initiative makes all the difference to farmers making the changeover.

"You need assistance in designing a conservation-based system that works for an organic operation, and just making that work financially, as well as also finding the technical assistance you need to help you put into place the things that are needed, so it's definitely an important part of the puzzle."

She says applicants will need to submit a self-certification form to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), acknowledging that they agree to develop and implement conservation practices.

"You have to fill out the basic application form by March 4, and then you also need to be in contact with an organic transition specialist."

In fiscal year 2010, the NRCS obligated nearly $24 million through the Organic Initiative to help producers implement conservation practices such as planting cover crops, establishing pest-management plans or implementing nutrient-management systems.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - MA