Organic certification rebates available to farms and handlers
ST. PAUL — Minnesota organic farmers and processors can apply for a rebate of up to half the cost of their organic certification. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for its Organic Certification Cost Share Program from now until Nov. 1.
Organic certification is a third-party verification system which 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 Patrice Bailey, MDA assistant commissioner. “This program provides some relief and goes a long way to make organic certification more affordable.”
Funds for the cost share program are available first-come, first-served and come from a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.
Operations that received certification or had ongoing certification between Oct. 1, 2021, and Sept. 30, 2022, are eligible for reimbursement of up to 50% of certification-related expenses, with a maximum of $500 per category (crop, livestock, processing/handling, wild harvest). MDA also offers a similar cost share program for transitioning a farm to organic.
To qualify, applicants must be certified organic by a USDA-accredited certifying agency. New this year will be an online application process. Certified organic farmers or processors can obtain all the program details and necessary materials on the MDA’s website or by calling 651-201-6134. Applicants who do not wish to apply with MDA may apply through their local FSA Office.
Additional funding for up to 25% of allowable certification costs is available through FSA. That application deadline is Oct. 31.