Organic Cost Share Application Period Open

The USDA’s Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP) is again offering rebates for certification expenses to eligible organic producers and handlers.

To qualify, applicants must be certified organic by a USDA-accredited certifying agency; by MCIA, for example. Operations that received certification (or had ongoing certification) between October 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021, are eligible for reimbursement of up to 50 percent of certification-related expenses. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) administers the program in Minnesota and has already mailed application packets to all certified organic operations in the state.

The maximum rebate available is $500 per category (crop, livestock, processing/handling, wild harvest). The MDA also offers a similar cost share program for operations transitioning to organic. In Minnesota, producers and handlers may apply for cost share assistance through the MDA, here. In Wisconsin, apply to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, here. Organic operations that are certified by MCIA and that are located in other states, should apply through their local Farm Service Agency (FSA).

“The yearly cost of certification can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars,” MDA Assistant Commissioner Patrice Bailey said. “This program provides some relief and goes a long way to make organic certification more affordable.” The Organic Certification Cost Share Program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency.

Palmer Amaranth Found in Polk County

Palmer amaranth has long flowering spikes that are spiny. The plant can produce hundreds of thousands of seeds in a short time frame. Seeds mature within 10-12 days after pollination. Photo: MDA.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has positively identified the invasive weed Palmer amaranth in Polk County. The confirmation came after the MDA inspected a field being used for the disposal of agricultural screenings.

The MDA collected a sample of the screenings material and determined by genetic testing that it was contaminated with Palmer amaranth seed. The field was scouted, and MDA staff found several dead Palmer amaranth plants on the field’s edge remaining from last year, suggesting the plants had grown and matured.

The landowner is working with the department to eradicate any of the weeds moving forward. At this time, the MDA believes the issue is isolated to only one field. The field and the surrounding area will be a priority for MDA field scouting this summer.

Since it was first discovered in the state in 2016, Palmer amaranth has been found in ten Minnesota counties, including Polk County. Most of the sites have been successfully eradicated and the remaining are being closely monitored.

In Minnesota, Palmer amaranth is listed as a noxious weed and a prohibited weed seed. This means no Palmer amaranth is allowed in any seed offered for sale in Minnesota.

Palmer amaranth is resistant to multiple herbicides, can cause substantial yield losses, and greatly increase weed management costs in soybeans and corn.

MDA’s full press release on this topic can be found online, here. Find more information about Palmer amaranth on the MDA’s website, here.

MCIA Annual Meeting Preview

Please plan to join us the morning of Wednesday, January 13, 2021, for MCIA’s 118th Annual Meeting. This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the meeting will be held virtually, via Zoom. To keep our online time together to a manageable two hours, 9–11 a.m., we have organized a condensed, but informative, meeting program.

During the business meeting segment of the Annual Meeting, we will hear brief organizational and fiscal reports from officers of MCIA’s Board of Directors. We will also hold an election for open seats on the board.

Next, we will be joined by three seed industry experts. Each will give a 20-minute presentation. Andy LaVigne, President and CEO of the American Seed Trade Association, will discuss the state of the industry—highlighting the Covid-19 pandemic and  changes in the political environment. Brent Turnipseed, Manager of the South Dakota State University Seed Lab and Assistant Department Head of Agronomy, Horticulture, & Plant Science at SDSU, will address common issues in seed testing. Denise Thiede will provide an update from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Denise is MDA’s Seed, Weed, Hemp, and Biotechnology Section Manager and an MCIA board member.

Invited speakers include Andy LaVigne, Brent Turnipseed, and Denise Thiede.

We will fill out the program with MCIA’s annual award presentations. Don’t miss this opportunity to recognize the contributions and achievements of your seed industry colleagues. We will announce the recipients of the Honorary Premier Seedsman, Premier Seedsman, and the Achievement in Crop Improvement awards.

To register for the meeting, click here. To access meeting documents please visit our Annual Meeting page. If you have any questions about the meeting, please call us at 800-510-6242 or email

Don’t Plant Mystery Seeds—Send Them to MDA

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has been receiving reports of residents receiving unsolicited packages of seeds appearing to come from China. Officials in other states have reported similar situations. Anyone who has received a package of seeds they did not order should not plant the seeds. What to do? Minnesotans should contact MDA’s Arrest the Pest line at 1-888-545-6684 or Provide your name, contact information, and the date the package was received. Officials will coordinate shipping the packaging and contents to the MDA Seed Program. The MDA is working with the USDA’s Smuggling Interdiction and Trade Compliance Program on identification and destruction of the seeds. For more information on this topic, read the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s full press release.