Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Food Council

Organic Conversion Incentive Pilot Program

In an effort to promote economic vitality, environmental stewardship, and the public health and safety of Dane County residents, the County is piloting an Organic Conversion Incentive Program. The Organic Conversion Incentive Program is intended to provide an incentive for farmers to convert to certified organic practices. Dane County will grant $250 each year for up to three years to help offset costs associated with the three year conversion period and organic certification costs.

Program Policy

Dane County will grant residents up to $250 per year for farms located within Dane County that start and complete the conversion to certified organic farming practices in accordance with the USDA National Organic Standards and Regulations. The grant is also available for up to three years for land that has been dormant, or not actively used for farming operations, and is thus likely eligible for organic certification without a transition period. Farmers are eligible to receive the grant whether they own or rent the land.

The grant shall be awarded to a successful applicant for a period of up to three (3) years during which time the applicant must comply with the USDA National Organic Program Standards and Regulations and receive formal transitional verification status from an accredited certification agency. The land must be actively farmed in accordance with said standards and regulation through the three year period. A participant will be reimbursed annually, upon confirmation of their transitional verification status. A participant must be “certified organic” at the end of year three of their program participation and maintain said certification for a minimum of two (2) years beyond program participation.

A participant who subsequently violates the USDA National Organic Program Standard and Regulations or does not receive organic certification at the end of the three year participation period shall immediately be liable for refunding all grant dollars received through the program.

To support incentive awardees in attaining their organic certification status, program participants are invited to attend an organic conversion and records-keeping counseling session with Claire Strader, Small-Scale and Organic Produce Educator at Dane County UW-Extension. This session could last up to 2 hours, can be scheduled individually with Claire, and should be completed within 60 days of receiving notice of the incentive award.

A participant in this program must acquire certification from a USDA accredited organic certification authority. The initial organic certification and report, and any annual updates, will be the sole authority to determine compliance with the USDA National Organic Program Standard and Regulations under this program. A declaration of compliance (including required documentation from the certification agency) shall be signed and verified by the participant prior to each grant payment.


The Dane County UW-Extension office will make an application form available by March 1st each year. Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis until funds are no longer available. Applicants must be residents of Dane County, have current access to land in Dane County, and be engaged in farming.

Review Process

The Dane County Food Council will establish an Organic Conversion Work Group to review submitted applications. The workgroup will consist of two members of the Dane County Food Council and up to four members from the Dane County farm/agri-business community. Dane County UW-Extension will provide staff support for the work group.

The organic conversion work group shall review each application to determine if it meets the requirements for the program. The work group will make recommendations to the Dane County Food Council for allocation of incentive funds to the program applicants.

Extenuating circumstances that lead to failure to attain organic certification within three (3) years and maintain certification for an additional two (2) years will be considered by the review committee.

To Apply

Complete the application including a W-9 form and return it to Jess Guffey Calkins by mail or email at the address below. Program participants must submit a copy of their transitional status verification form from their certifying agency prior to receipt of payment.

Additional Information and Resources

Contact Jess Guffey Calkins, Community Food Systems Coordinator at UW-Madison Extension Dane County, at or (608) 224-3712.