The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended the deadline for organic and transitional growers to sign up for conservation cost-share funding until June 12. In California, the new sign-up deadline is June 26.

The original deadline was May 29.

"We have received numerous requests from partners to extend the timeline for this program in California," Alan Forkey, Davis, Calif.-based assistant state conservationist said in a news release. "Recently we have received many, many calls from farmers who were hearing about the program for the first time."

The deadline was extended nationwide.

Organic producers or those transitioning to organic can receive up to $20,000 per year or $80,000 over six years through this initiative.

Due to increased costs for some conservation practices, the Natural Resources Consevation Service has increased the standard payment rate up to 60 percent for some practices.

The Organic Initiative contained in the 2008 Farm Bill targets six core conservation practices: conservation crop rotation, cover cropping, nutrient management, pest management, prescribed grazing and forage harvest management. A total of $50 million is available nationwide.

Applicants must either have an organic system plan that meets the National Organic Program guidelines or certify that they are working toward one, according to the news release.

Organic producers may also apply for assistance under the general Environmental Quality Incentive Program, or EQIP, which also is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

For more information, visit http://www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov or contact your local USDA Service Center.