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Act fast to apply for organic initiative

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is advising organic farmers and farmers transitioning to organic to act fast in order to benefit from a new Organic Initiative offered by the United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Con- servation Service (NRCS).

More than $1.75 million is available in Minnesota, and the signup period for this year's special pool of funds ends on Thursday, May 29.

This is the first year of the Organic Initiative, which was authorized in the 2008 federal Farm Bill.

"We encourage certified organic and transitioning producers to sign up for this new program and receive the benefits," Minnesota Agriculture Com- missioner Gene Hugoson said.

"It's important to contact the county NRCS office right away to learn about how this program can help them achieve their organic and conservation goals.

"With just a few days to sign up, producers need to act now."

The program offers financial support and technical assistance to help farmers adopt and implement conservation practices that are suitable for organic production.

Per acre payments are available for any or all of the following practices: conservation crop rotations, cover crops, nutrient management, pest management, prescribed grazing, and forage harvest management.

To learn more about the program or to apply, organic producers and those transitioning to organic production should contact the NRCS field staff at their county USDA Service Center.

For a list of NRCS centers in Minnesota, visit the Web site at:

Information about organic certification requirements and other organic topics is available online at