A new scholarship program is available to Minnesota crop and dairy farmers who are in the process of transitioning to organic production or who have been recently certified organic.

The scholarships will defray up to 90 percent of qualifying farmers’ costs to enroll in Farm Business Management (FBM) courses offered by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU).

Transitioning to organic typically takes 36 months, a period when the farmer must use organic practices but can’t sell crops or livestock products for premium organic prices, according to Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) organic specialist Meg Moynihan. 

“Effective financial and business management is crucial to farm prosperity,” said Moynihan.  “This educational program is designed to help producers make more informed and better management decisions during—and also after— transitioning to organic.”

Farm Business Management courses allow farmers to work one-on-one with an instructor who will help them design a financial recordkeeping system in order to understand how their various crop and/or dairy enterprises are performing.  Financial statements like cash flows, balance sheets, and end-of-year financial analyses give a picture of the farm’s financial health and provide information participants can use to plan for the coming year. 

Farmers who enroll will have additional opportunities to attend special organic transition workshops and contribute their own experiences and ideas about transition as part of this important research. 

The MDA encourages farmers to sign up for this new opportunity.  With a limited number of scholarships available, interested farmers should call Meg Moynihan at (651) 201-6616 to find out if they qualify.

The scholarships are offered in conjunction with the Tools for Transition project, a study about the economics of transitioning to organic production.  Tools for Transition project partners include the University of Minnesota, the MnSCU FBM Program, the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, and the MDA. Funding comes from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Organic Research Initiative.

Source: Minnesota Department of Agriculture