Certified organic producers and those transitioning to this type of production can apply for conservation funding through the Organic Initiative of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

Applications must be submitted by March 12 to be considered for current-year funding.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service in Arizona has $1.3 million available through the EQIP organic program.

The program provides technical and financial assistance to help agricultural producers plan and apply practices to protect soil, water, and other natural resources while improving their operations.

Special areas of emphasis include assistance for cover crops, nutrient management, pest management, and conservation crop rotation. Other conservation practices may also be available.

While March 12 is the deadline for current funding, applicants are encouraged to apply at any time. Organic producers can also apply for assistance through the general EQIP program.

The EQIP organic initiative is a new emphasis of the 2008 farm bill.

NRCS Arizona has 24 field offices. For more information, call (602) 280-8800 or go online to www.az.nrcs.usda.gov/contact.