Cost share program available to organic farmers

Published 8:32 pm Thursday, September 20, 2018

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 will accept applications for the Minnesota Organic Cost Share Program until Oct. 31.

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 Cassie Dahl. “This program provides some relief and goes a long way to make organic certification more affordable.”

Funds for the cost share program come from a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency. Operations that received certification, or had ongoing certification, between Oct. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30 are eligible for reimbursement of up to 75 percent of certification-related expenses, with a maximum of $750 per category, including crop, livestock, processing/handling and wild harvest. The MDA also offers a similar cost share program for transitioning to organic.

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 website or by calling 651-201-6134. Applicants that do not wish to apply with MDA may apply through their local USDA-FSA Office.