Organic producers in the US have won US$50m in government funding as the Obama administration looks to encourage organic production.

The scheme was announced yesterday (5 May) by the US Department of Agriculture, which said founding would be made available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Giving more help to organic producers is a “priority” for the Obama administration, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said. “The objective of this initiative is to make organic food producers eligible to compete for EQIP financial assistance,” Merrigan explained.

The USDA said that applications received from organic producers or those in transition to organic farming will be accepted under the initiative between 11 May and 29 May. The Organic Trade Association welcomed the extra funding and said it represented government recognition that organic farming practices represent positive environmental practices”.

“OTA believes that this funding will further encourage farmers to use such practices and help increase the US production of organic food to meet growing consumer demand,” Christine Bushway, the association’s executive director, said.

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US sales of organic food and non-food products grew by 17.1% in 2008 to US$24.6bn, according to the OTA’s latest data. The funding covers six practices – conservation crop rotation, cover crop, nutrient management, pest management, prescribed grazing and forage harvest management.