Your Letters: Fields of opportunity in rural Minnesota
The steady growth of organic farming in Minnesota and the economic impacts of organics on rural communities cannot and should not be ignored. The USDA recently reiterated their commitment to organic production by announcing another $50 million in funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative, which provides a 75 percent share of the cost of implementing organic conservation measures to those who qualify -- 90 percent for beginning, limited-resource and socially-disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
In Minnesota, just over $1 million was awarded out of the $24 million distributed nationally last year. That total funding helped 64 Minnesota farms either get started in organic production or enhance their established operations, making the state tenth in the nation for funding awarded.
Farmers and ranchers involved in organic production or transitioning to organic have until March 4 to apply for the EQIP Organic funding for 2011 through their local Natural Resources Conservation Service office. The Center for Rural Affairs has also provided an EQIP Organic Initiative fact sheet at www.cfra.org/2010-eqip-organic-initiative and a Farm Bill Help Line at (402) 687-2100 to assist farmers and ranchers in applying.
With $50 million in national funding available this year, farmers and ranchers have a tremendous opportunity to take the leap into organic. The rewards to farmers, ranchers, rural communities and our food system will be with us for a long time.
Center for Rural Affairs