Updated: 08/11/2013 9:57 AM
Created: 08/06/2013 5:34 PM KSTP.com
By: Naomi Pescovitz
There are more than 700 certified organic farms in Minnesota and that number is rising.
But the switch to organic can be long and costly for farmers. That is where a new, first of its kind, program from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture comes in.
"The switch takes about 36 months. And during that time, we heard from a lot of farmers that they felt like they were kind of flying without a net. They said there are these organic rules that I have to follow, somebody is going to come and inspect me in three years and make sure that I'm following the rules, how do I know that I'm on the right track?" said Meg Moynihan, Principal Administrator for the Organic Diversification Program at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
The organic transition cost share program offers farmers a rebate of 75 percent on certain costs, including soil testing and working with an organic certifying agency during the transition period. There is a maximum payment of $750 per year for three years until farmers are certified.
"As far as we know, we're the first state in the country that's doing this," Moynihan said.
"There's just the learning curve that farmers are on and one of the things that this program also does is reduces the cost for them to attend some educational conferences so that they can meet other organic farmers who are already successful," Moynihan said.
The program is paid for with state funding. The deadline to apply for the 2013 program is February 14, 2014.
Click here to learn more.