Project title: Increasing the adoption of organic farming practices through NRCS training
Coordinator: Kathie Starkweather, Center for Rural Affairs, Lyons, Nebraska
Project location: Nebraska and North Dakota
NRCS staff, responsible for administering the program, while dedicated to natural resource conservation and knowledgeable of conservation programs, were not familiar with the Organic Initiative program. That lack of understanding created barriers for development of successful cost share contracts with organic producers. As a result, organic producers were not participating in NRCS cost share programs.
We approached this need by designing a web-based training in organic practices for Nebraska NRCS to build fluency in organic systems, in turn allowing them to successfully write and administer contracts with organic growers. The training was held in May 2009. We included organic farm tours to help ensure full understanding was achieved.
Thirty-five NRCS field staff participated in the web-based training, representing 17 out of Nebraska's 23 districts (or 74% of districts).