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Organic Cost Share Application Period Opens

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (OCCSP) is again offering rebates for certification expenses to eligible organic producers and handlers. Both the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) county offices in Minnesota will accept cost share applications and make payments to eligible certified operations.

Minnesota organic farmers and processors can apply for a rebate of up to 50 percent of the cost of their organic certification. The MDA is accepting applications for the Minnesota Organic Certification Cost Share Program from now until November 1, 2022.

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,” MDA’s Assistant Commissioner Patrice Bailey said. “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 FSA.

Operations that received certification (or had ongoing certification) between October 1, 2021 and September 30, 2022 are eligible for reimbursement of up to 50 percent 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 United States Department of Agriculture-accredited certifying agency, such as Minnesota Crop Improvement Association. 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 percent of allowable certification costs is available through FSA. That application deadline is October 31, 2022.