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      Organic Cost Share Program helps farmers, industry, consumers

      Posted on August 20, 2012 at 11:15 AM

      Organic Minnesota Cows

      Organic cows and calves raised at Derrydale Farms near Le Sueur, MN

      Governor Dayton wants to make sure Minnesota’s organic farmers and food companies know that the Minnesota Organic Certification Cost Share Program is now taking applications.

      The organic marketplace continues to grow but something you may not know is that organic farmers and food manufacturers have to “ante up” in order to access this market. They go through a verification process, called “organic certification” that provides consumer assurance that they are following all the provisions of the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Standards.  And the organic operations themselves have to pay for this certification, which costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year -- depending on the size of the farm or company’s sales.

      The USDA provides each state with funds to defray these costs.  Organic operations are eligible for a rebate of 75% on what they spend for certification -- capped at $750 per certificate or type of certification they have.  For example, dairy farmers pay to have both their crops and animals certified, so their maximum payment is $1,500.

      The governor thinks Minnesotans might be very interested to know that this national program that benefits organic operations in all 50 states was conceived right here in Minnesota. In 1999, the governor’s office and the state legislature worked together to provide funds for the first organic cost share program in the nation.  This kind of regulatory relief was recognized as such a good idea that it was incorporated into the 2002 Farm Bill and became a nationwide program.
       
      More information about Minnesota’s Organic Certification Cost Share Program is available at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture web site www.mda.state.mn.us/organic