Minnesota organic farmers and processors can apply for a rebate of up to 75 percent of the cost of their organic certification. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is accepting applications for the Minnesota Organic Cost Share Program from now until October 31, 2015.
Organic certification is a third-party verification system. It assures consumers the organic products they buy are produced in accordance with federal organic regulations. Organic operations must follow National Organic Standards and are monitored through review of their records and on-site inspections at least once a year.
“The yearly cost of certification can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars,” said program administrator Meg Moynihan. “This program provides some regulatory relief and goes a long way to making organic certification more affordable.”
Funds for the cost share program come from a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Operations that received certification (or had ongoing certification) between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015 are eligible for reimbursement of up to 75 percent of certification-related expenses, with a maximum of $750 per category (crop, livestock, processing/handling, wild harvest).
To qualify, applicants must be certified organic by a USDA-accredited certifying agency. The MDA has already mailed application packets to all certified organic operations in the state. Any certified organic farmer or processor who did not receive a packet can obtain all the program details and necessary materials on the MDA's web site www.mda.state.mn.us/organic or by calling 651-201-6012.