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Ten public agencies join forces in Organic Memorandum

A group of state and federal agencies will formalize their commitment to Minnesota's organic agriculture industry with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) next week in St. Paul. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will join nine other state and federal agencies and the University of Minnesota in pledging support of this expanding industry.

In the MOU, agency heads agree to share organic information and resources; encourage and support organic research, demonstrations, and field days to showcase production practices, conservation measures and economic performance.

MDA Commissioner Gene Hugoson said Minnesota has long been a leader in the organic industry and the signing of the MOU will increase the impact of each agency's organic programs and foster innovative partnerships in future efforts.

"Organic agriculture is an important and growing part of Minnesota's farm and food economy," Commissioner Hugoson said. "The partners signing onto the MOU want to work together in order to help Minnesota farmers, Minnesota-based business enterprises, and Minnesota consumers make the most of the opportunities presented by this rapidly growing sector."

The Minnesota Organic MOU signatories are: Gene Hugoson, MDA; Mark Holsten, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Brad Moore, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; Perry Aasness, USDA Farm Service Agency (MN); Bill Hunt, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (MN); Craig Rice, USDA Risk Management Agency (MN); Steve Wenzel, USDA Rural Development (MN); Bev Durgan, University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station and University of Minnesota Extension; and Al Levine, University of Minnesota College of Agricultural, Food and Natural Resource Sciences.

In 2002, five Minnesota agencies formed the first state-level organic MOU in the nation. That five-year agreement will be expanded and renewed in a ceremony on Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 8:30 a.m. at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, 625 North Robert Street, St. Paul, Minnesota.