Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the U. S. Deapartment of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will host a workshop Sept. 24 to explain benefits from the 2008 Farm Bill for growers who have or will employ organic practices.

The workshop rusn from 7:30 a.m. to noon at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco, 2401 E. Highway 83 in Weslaco. Admission is free.

Barbara Storz, an AgriLife Extension agent in Hidalgo County, said growers could qualify for as much as $400 per acre per year for up to three years, depending on their level of organic farming practices.

“Regardless of their crop, regardless of their income or the size of their operation, if growers are using or are in transition to use organic farming practices, they could qualify for funds from the current farm bill as never before,” she said.

Storz said the farm bill, known as the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, recognizes and encourages the efforts of organic producers.

Storz said a wide variety of producers can qualify, provided their production is commercial.

“Whether a grower produces organic fruits and vegetables, cotton, forage crops, or others, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program will pay for a variety of organic practices,” she said. “The idea is to encourage the stewardship of our soils.”

Storz said organic practices that could qualify include certain pest management practices, crop rotation, the use of cover crops on harvested fields, forage harvest management and nutrient management.

“The pay back for various practices varies from $20 per acre to well over $400 per acre for up to three consecutive years in which the organic practice is in place,” she said. “Like any business, the secret to success with this program is careful planning and recordkeeping.”

Speakers will address how to qualify, how to apply and assistance in applying, Storz said.

“We’ll also have speakers on how to qualify for organic certification in Texas, research on successful forage crops in South Texas, organic insect and disease management and how to set up budgets for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program,” she said.

Educational programs of AgriLife Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin.

Persons who require special accommodations, or who would like more information, should contact Storz at 956-383-1026 or e-mail BStorz@ag.tamu.edu.