The Woodward News

Local News

March 23, 2014

Program could help organic food producers

In an effort to begin supporting the new local and organic food trend, Oklahoma Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced a new program open to those who qualify as small organic producers.

In Oklahoma, NRCS has allocated substantial funds to make financial and technical assistance available to certified organic producers, those who want to make the transition to organic production, and producers who sell less than $5,000 in organic products annually, said State Conservationist Gary O’Neill.

U.S. sales of organic food and beverages have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $26.7 billion in 2010. Sales in 2010 represented 7.7 percent growth over 2009 sales. Experiencing the highest growth in sales during 2010 were organic fruits and vegetables, up 11.8 percent over 2009 sales, according to the Organic Trade Association.

The recognition of the importance of this market by the government is a positive trend according to local organic feed retailer Tina Aide.

“That is awesome,” she said when she heard the news of the program. “We have so few people who have the incentive to produce organically and that is going to be a great start.”

Aide owns and managed A Hand 2 Heal Organic Food Market just north of Main Street in Woodward.

She serves a growing number of customers, all who have become increasingly food aware and want to feed their families with produce that is certified to be free of chemicals.

At present, she must purchase most of her organic groceries, such as Kale, organically grown fruits and vegetables and even organically produced milk, from a market out of the region.

“If we had some more growers here locally then I could support the organic market locally instead of spending my money out of this area on organic produce," she said. "That would be so awesome to be able to buy things here from people in my own community for the store.”

Part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Organic Initiative offers a wide array of conservation practices specifically designed for organic production.  “Practices will help the selected applicants meet many requirements of their USDA Organic System Plans and stay in compliance with USDA’s National Organic Program, “O,Neill said.

 More can be learned about the Organic Initiative at:

http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/programs/financial/eqip/?cid=nrcs143008224.

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