Organic agriculture is one of the most rapidly growing sectors in the food industry. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) recognizes organic as a choice that interests many farmers and consumers. We estimate that Minnesota has more than 700 certified organic farms and more than 230 certified organic food processors and businesses.
Organic agriculture … promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony.
-- USDA National Organic Standards Board, 1995
The MDA offers organic information, educational events, speakers, and other assistance and resources for many areas of organic agriculture including: production methods, transition, certification, and marketing.
What do you mean, “Organic”?
“Organic” is a guarantee about how an agricultural food or fiber product was grown and handled before it reached the consumer. It’s also a set of standards for farmers who grow plants and animals, and for processors and handlers who turn it into food, clothing, or other products.
Farmers and food processors that make organic claims must meet national organic standards, maintain careful records, and be certified* by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-accredited organization, a process that includes on-site inspection. Certification assures consumers that the product was grown and processed organically. There are stiff penalties for fraud, which means representing a non-organic product as organic.
*Farms that gross less than $5,000 in organic sales may be exempt from certification if they meet several other criteria.