ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is offering its Organic Transition Cost Share program to farmers again in 2014.
The program reimburses Minnesota farmers who are transitioning their land or livestock to certified organic status, paying part of the cost to work with a USDA accredited organic certifying agency during the transition period, which typically lasts three years.
“Usually farmers don’t contact a certifying agency until they think they’re finished with the transition,” explained program administrator Meg Moynihan. “Our program gives farmers a chance to get feedback on how they’re doing before it actually counts, like practicing before a big game.”
In addition, farmers can request reimbursement for soil testing costs and registration fees to attend an organic education conference in Minnesota or a neighboring state. Farmers transitioning to organic can receive a 75 percent rebate of these eligible costs. The maximum payment is $750 per year for three years or until they achieve organic certification, whichever comes first.
“In early spring, my phone starts ringing with curious farmers asking what it takes to go organic,” said Moynihan. “We want to make sure prospective organic growers know we’re here to help them with this program during the transition process.”
Transition Cost Share Program application forms and a set of Frequently Asked Questions are available at www.mda.state.mn.us/organic or by calling 651-201-6012.
Farmers who are already certified organic will be happy to know their certification cost share program will return later this year.