Because of overwhelming interest in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service's new organic transition cost-share program, the Wisconsin Natural Resource Conservation Service has extended the application period to June 12. Wisconsin's share of the $50 million set aside for the program is $1.2 million. Producers new to organic farming and those adding acreage to an existing organic farm may be eligible.
"Wisconsin is second only to California in numbers of organic farms and we have strong markets for organic crops," said Rod Nilsestuen, Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. "This is an opportunity for these farmers to transition additional acres, or for farmer who may be considering going organic to begin the process with some financial support during the three year transition period."
"We encourage all farmers interested in converting to organic to contact their local USDA Service Center right away," said Laura Paine, Organic Agriculture Specialist for DATCP. "This is a busy time of year for farmers, but as long as the application is submitted by June 12, the transition plan can be developed later in the season."
With funds for planning assistance under the NRCS Conservation Activity Plan program, farmers can hire a crop advisor to help them map out their three-year organic transition period. Certified or transitioning organic producers can also sign up for numerous supporting conservation practices that can be used to improve the overall environmental performance of their farming operation.
"Organic is an important component of Wisconsin's diverse agricultural economy," said Nilsestuen. "We appreciate the partnership that NRCS has shown with this program and as an active participant in the Wisconsin Organic Advisory Council."