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$1.4 Million Made Available for Montana Farmers and Ranchers for Organic Production

Butte, Montana, August 7, 2009 - Although it was a very fast sign-up period, 56 organic and transitioning organic farmers and ranchers signed-up for the special Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) offered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Montana was been allotted $1.4 million of $50 million allocated nationwide to this special initiative. The Montana Organic Association (MOA) has been watching this development closely and wants thank NRCS for its efforts and prepare for another initiative next year .

The organic conversion assistance was provided for by the 2008 Farm Bill.  This initiative  set aside $50 million out of the $1 billion EQIP program for a special  sign-up for farms converting to organic production, farms expanding their organic production, or existing organic farms who desire conservation support to reach even higher levels of environmental performance.  Six core conservation practices (conservation crop rotation, cover cropping, integrated pest management, nutrient management, rotational grazing, and forage harvest management) are being made available to transitioning and existing organic farmers on a nationwide basis.  Each state may then also add a variety of “facilitating” conservation practices specific to the type of agriculture in their region. If a farmer or rancher misses this sign-up they can still have their application be considered in FY2010 starting in October of 2009.

 “We are pleased about this opportunity for more farmers and ranchers in Montana to get needed help and assistance transitioning into organic production," said Ole Norgaard, Board Chair of MOA.

For more information about the program in Montana, call Kris Berg, EQIP and CIG Program Specialist at 406-587-6849 or by email at kris.berg@mt.usda.gov.

The Butte office of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) under its USDA ATTRA sustainable agriculture information service (www.attra.ncat.org) also has detailed information or you can call toll free at 1-800-346-9140.

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Montana Organic Association Summer 2009 Farm Tours 
Highlight Cereal Grains, Vegetables, Herbs and Eggs

Missoula, Montana, June 1, 2009 -- Providing fresh and healthy food is a goal of the Montana Organic Association (MOA), which is hosting two farm tours this season. The public is invited to see how local organic food is grown.

MOA's first tour is Saturday, June 13, at Hinebauch Grain, Inc. in Chinook, Montana. This 10,000-acre "family farm" is one of the oldest certified organic operations in the state. The Hinebauchs grow wheat and other cereal grains and utilize green manure in their crop rotation to build soil. Pre-registration is at 9:30 AM, and the tour begins 10:00 AM. A $5 registration fee, includes lunch.

MOA's second tour, on Saturday, June 27, involves two operations--Baty Farm in Dixon, Montana, and Mission Mountain Organic Egg Farm in Ronan. Doug and Antje Baty's 280-acre farm includes five acres of certified organic vegetables, herbs and seed crops. They also grow squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers for the Western Montana Growers Coop, a collection of local farmers who distribute fresh food through much of western Montana. Bring your own blanket or chairs for a picnic-style lunch.

Pre-registration is at 9:30 AM and the Baty Farm Tour begins at 10:00 AM, concluding with lunch at noon.  The $15 registration fee includes both tours, lunch and egg giveaway. At 1:30 PM the tour at Mission Mountain Organic Egg Farm begins in Ronan.  Operated by John and Crystal Walkup, the farm houses 2,000 laying hens with lots of indoor space, straw bedding and access to a large pasture. The Walkups will conduct a tour of feed processing, chick brooding, the laying house, the yard, and egg processing.  

The tours are co-sponsored by the Montana Organic Association, The Good Food Store, Montana Department of Agriculture, Western Montana Growers Coop, AERO, and Organic Crop Improvement Association, North Central Montana Chapter.

For directions, registration, ride-sharing and additional information please contact Susan Waters at (406) 542-9211, or e-mail moa@montanaorganicassociation.org or go to www.montanaorganicassociation.org/farmtours2009.htm

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NOTE: Deadline extension to June 12, 2009!!

$1.4 Million Available for Montana Farmers and Ranchers to Convert to Organic Production
Montana, May 8, 2009 – USDA today announced a special three-week sign-up period for farmers in the process of converting to organic farming to receive technical and financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a move applauded by the Montana Organic Association and many grassroots organizations across the country. Montana has been allotted $1.4 million of $50 million allocated to this special initiative.

The Montana Organic Association (MOA) has been watching this development closely and wants to urge all farmers and ranchers in Montana interested in pursuing organic production to contact the Montana State NRCS office to gather details for application.
 
The organic conversion assistance was provided for by the 2008 Farm Bill. Today’s announcement sets aside $50 million out of the $1 billion EQIP program for a special three-week sign-up for farms converting to organic production, farms expanding their organic production, or existing organic farms who desire conservation support to reach even higher levels of environmental performance. The sign-up period begins Monday, May 11 and goes through Friday, May 29. Six core conservation practices (conservation crop rotation, cover cropping, integrated pest management, nutrient management, rotational grazing, and forage harvest management) are being made available to transitioning organic farmers on a nationwide basis. Each state may then also add a variety of “facilitating” conservation practices specific to the type of agriculture in their region. If a farmer or rancher misses this sign-up they can still have their application considered in FY2010 starting in October of 2009.

 “We are pleased about this opportunity for more farmers and ranchers in Montana to get needed help and assistance transitioning into organic production," said Ole Norgaard, Board Chair of MOA.

For more information about the program in Montana, visit http://www.mt.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/eqip2009/organic_si.html.

For specific questions, call Kris Berg, EQIP and CIG Program Specialist at 406-587-6849 or email kris.berg@mt.usda.gov.

The Butte office of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) under its USDA ATTRA sustainable agriculture information service at www.attra.ncat.org also has detailed information or you can call toll free at 1-800-346-9140.

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