Organic farmers in Minnesota can apply for rebates beginning next month to offset up to 75 percent of the costs they pay each year for certification. 

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson said the cost-share program provides "important regulatory cost relief" for organic farmers and handlers. They are required by law to hire an accredited certifying agency each year to verify compliance with national organic standards.

Funding for the rebate program was included in the Farm Bill passed by Congress earlier this year, and Minnesota's allocation for 2014 is about $540,000. 

MDA officials said that farmers in Minnesota pay between $360 and $6,000 for organic certification each year, depending on the size and type of operation, and the certifying agency that they select.  The median cost of certification for organic handlers, which include food processors, feed mills, brokers and other enterprises, was about $2,300 in 2012.

Information about organic practices, certification requirements and related topics is available at www.mda.state.mn.us/organic

Application materials for the rebates and more information will be available when MDA opens the program in August.