Tricounty News

Organic certification cost-share deadline Oct. 30



Organic farmers, processors urged to sign up for reimbursement

Minnesota organic farmers and processors seeking certification have until October 30 to apply for the 2009-2010 Organic Certification Cost Share Program. The program reimburses up to 75 percent of an organic operation's certification costs, with a maximum payment of $750.

"Certified organic" is a verified claim, which means an independent organization reviews records and inspects each operation at least once a year to make sure farmers and processors are complying with the national organic standards and consumers are getting what they pay for.

"We've already received 155 requests for certification cost share, and we don't want anyone who is eligible for a rebate to miss this opportunity," said Meg Moynihan, organic specialist for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA).

Moynihan says the current program reimburses qualifying expenses incurred between Oct. 1, 2009, and Sept. 30, 2010. Applicants must submit a one-page application form, documentation of 2010 certification, and copies of invoices for certification-related costs. Those who did not receive a 2010 certificate before September 30 may include a copy of their most recent organic certificate. All applications must be postmarked by Oct. 30, 2010.

Application packets were mailed to more than 800 certified operations in August. Those who did not receive the materials may obtain the application form and guidelines at www.mda.state.mn.us/food/organic, or by calling the MDA at (651) 201-6012.

Organic agriculture is governed by a comprehensive set of federal regulations that prohibit the use of genetically modified seeds, antibiotics and hormones. The regulations also prohibit the use of most synthetic pesticides and herbicides, and require practices that conserve soil and water and promote animal welfare.

Funds for the cost share reimbursement program come from a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).