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Apply now for organic certification rebate

Minnesota organic farmers and processors can now apply for a rebate of up to $750 toward the cost of organic certification.

Organic certification assures consumers that products are truly organic, and that they are produced in compliance with federal organic regulations. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is accepting applications for the Minnesota Organic Cost Share Program from now until Oct. 30.

"This program provides some regulatory relief from a financial burden that is unique to organic farms and businesses," said MDA Organic and Diversification Specialist Meg Moynihan.

"Organic growers and processors who sell more than $5,000 of organic agricultural products are legally required to obtain certification at their own expense. Depending on the farm or business size, the cost can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars per year."

Funds for this program come from a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Certified operations are eligible for reimbursement of 75 percent of National Organic Program certification-related costs incurred during the period between Oct. 1, 2009 and Sept. 30, 2010, up to a maximum of $750.

To qualify, applicants must submit an MDA application form, proof of certification during the qualifying period, and proof of certification expenses. Additional information is detailed in the program guidelines. All applications must be postmarked by Oct. 30. Incomplete applications cannot be processed.

The MDA has already mailed application packets to more than 800 certified organic operations in the state.

Any certified organic farmer or processor who did not receive a packet can obtain the necessary materials on the MDA's website www.mda.state. or by calling the MDA at 651-201-6012.