USDA announces plans to install up to 20,000 acres of buffers

USDA announces plans to install up to 20,000 acres of buffers

The buffers are designed to assist organic farmers. Funds are available through USDA Conservation Reserve Program.

USDA plans to assist organic farmers with the cost of establishing up to 20,000 acres of new conservation buffers and other practices on and near farms that produce organic crops.

“This financial assistance will help tailor existing conservation practices to the needs of organic farmers, helping to improve soil and water quality while also providing more wildlife habitat,” said Brad Pfaff, FSA deputy administrator for farm programs. “This is one part of the wide variety of services available to all segments of agriculture at local FSA offices, in addition to credit, risk protection, on-farm storage and other services.”

Funds are available to install conservation buffers. (Photo: Zooner RF/Thinkstock)

The financial assistance is available from the USDA Conservation Reserve Program, a federally funded voluntary program that contracts with agricultural producers to protect environmentally sensitive land. CRP participants establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees to control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat. In return, FSA provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Contract duration is between 10 and 15 years.

For conservation buffers, funds are available for establishing shrubs and trees, or supporting pollinating species, and can be planted in blocks or strips. Interested organic producers can offer eligible land for enrollment in this initiative at any time.

“We congratulate FSA on the launch of the new organic field border initiative and applaud their commitment to do more outreach to organic farmers," said Ferd Hoefner, policy director, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. "FSA leadership has made the right decision in seeking to tailor these types of programs to the specific needs organic farmers. We encourage organic farmers to give this new option careful consideration. This new initiative has the potential to pay real dividends for farm balance sheets and for the environment.”

Related story: Organic farmers look for NASS survey in your mailbox

Other USDA FSA programs that assist organic farmers include:

-The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program that provides financial assistance for 55% to 100% of the average market price for organic crop losses between 50% to 65% percent of expected production due to a natural disaster.

-Marketing assistance loans that provide interim financing to help producers meet cash flow needs without having to sell crops during harvest when market prices are low, and deficiency payments to producers who forgo the loan in return for a payment on the eligible commodity.

-A variety of loans for operating expenses, ownership or guarantees with outside lenders, including streamlined microloans that have a lower amount of paperwork.

-Farm Storage Facility Loans for that provide low-interest financing to build or upgrade storage facilities for organic commodities, including cold storage, grain bins, bulk tanks and drying and handling equipment.

-Services such as mapping farm and field boundaries and reporting organic acreage that can be provided to a farm’s organic certifier or crop insurance agent.

Visit www.fsa.usda.gov/organic to learn more about how FSA can help organic farmers.

Source: Farm Service Agency

Source: National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Read more:

Public News Service: USDA to give organic farmers new conservation tool - Organic farmers are required to have buffers, program provides some income from land.

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