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August 16, 2011     The Ortonville Independent
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August 16, 2011

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Organic cost share program now accepting applications Minnesota organic farmers and processors can now apply for a rebate of up to 75 percent of the cost of or- ganic certification. The Minnesota De- partment of Agriculture (MDA) is accepting applications for the Min- nesota Organic Cost Share Program from now until Oct. 31. Organic certification is a third-party verification system that assures con- sumers that the organic products they buy are truly organic, produced in com- pliance with federal organic regula- tiorls. Organic operations are monitored through their records, with on-site inspections at least once a year. "The cost-share program provides some regulatory relief from a financial burden that is unique to organic farms and businesses," said MDA Organic and Diversification Specialist Meg Moynihan. "Organic growers and processors wlo sell mbre than $5,000 of organic agricultural products are legally required to obtain certification at their own expense. Depending on the farm or business size, the cost can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars per year." Funds for this program come from a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agricul- ture (USDA). Certified operations are eligible for reimbursement of 75 per- cent of certification-related costs they incurred during the period between Oc- tober 1,2010 and September 30, 2011, up to a maximum of $750 per category of certification (crop, livestock, pro- cessing/handling, wild harvest). Costs incurred after September 30,2011 are not eligible for the current rebate pro- gram, but can be submitted next year. To qualify, applicants must be certi- fled by a USDA-accredited certifying agency. The MDA has already mailed application packets to more than 900 certified organic operations in the state. Any certified organic farmer or proces- sor who did not receive a packet can obtain the materials on the MDA's web site or by calling 651-201-6012. Along with their cost share applica- tions, organic farmers are invited to supply information about the products they sell for the upcoming edition of the Directory of Minnesota Organic Farms. The USDA valued the sales of organically prodticed commodities in Minnesota at $69 million for 2008, the most recent year for which data are available. There is no charge to be listed in the Minnesota directory. Troubles still continue for Minnesota's Housing Market Minnesota's housing market contin- ues to show signs of distress on several fronts, according to a new report. Employment in residential housing dropped below 9,000 monthly for the final quarter of 2010, the lowest fourth- quarter level in 17 years, and high housing inventory continued to impact both the construction industry and home values, according to the latest "2 x 4" report from the Minnesota Hous- ing Partnership (MHP). On average, the report says, 34 percent of homes for sale were foreclosures or short sales. While homelessness in Hennepin County remained virtually the same, says Chip Halbach, MHP executive di- rector, numbers of homeless youth were on the rise. "During this recession, a lot more people have lost their homes. Also as a part of that, many more children are homeless. From the reports we get from the Minneapolis and St. Paul school systems, children and youth homelessness has increased 6 percent from this period a year ago." Statewide, the foreclosure rate hit a two-year low, but Halbach says that could be a one-quarter anomaly con- nected to legal issues around the bank- ing industry's practice of "robo-signing" foreclosure documents. Another indicator of tough times ahead, Halbach says, is the rapidly de- clining vacancy rate for rental housing in the Twin Cities, which has dropped to less than 4 percent. He says 5 per- cent is considered a healthy rental mar- ket in terms of balance between renters and available apartments. "What happens typically in that sit- uation is that rents start to climb, and many families out there are stretched already to pay for their housing costs and price of rent." Halbach says the trend downward in vacancies, coupled with increasing rents, is expected to continue for at least a couple of quarters. He points to one bright note in the report: a continued decline in mortgage delinquencies. "It's now been several quarters that the rate has declined, now to about 6 percent of homeowners across the state are 60-some days past due on their mortgage." Late last week, Minnesota lawmak- ers announced plans to cut funding for housing and economic-development programs by about 50 percent. Given what's happening in the housing mar- ket, Halbach questions the wisdom of those cuts. "You hear the majority leaders talk about their interest in a safety net for Minnesotans. It seems to be a real con- tradiction in terms of halving the state's housing budget at a time when so many people are just on the edge or have al- ready lost their homes." The "2 x 4" report is online at mh- ( Check out our web site at ) !12,000 miles; Red, Local Trade : : .... :: 67,000 miles, Gray $9,995 Bus. 320-839-3333 Res. 320-839-3327 Farm Management Minute I Accurate Accounting By Kent Janssen, Farm Business Management Instructor, Minnesota West College-Truman Office Farm Business Management programs are offered throughout the state via many of our two year colleges. The program serves approximately 3,500 farm producers statewide via 70 instructors. It serves farmers from every age and economic status throughout the state. In fact our state is the leader in the U.S. in this delivery model. Throughout the state, we have terrific relationships with lenders who greatly value the information that comes out of our office for their farmer clients. Two words are key when describing the FBM program; confidentiality and impartiality. There is a personal and professional commitment to students as we work to improve the profitability and efficiency of their business. , The number one thing that is essential and is expected in a FBM program is 100 percent accurate business records. Whether or not you are in an FBM program, do you have your accounting up to date? As a farmer enrolls in an FBM program, you are "nudged" now and again to keep these essential records up to date. Complete accurate records form the basis of decision making. Prior year enterprise analysis interpretation will help to make the decision on capital purchases as come defined and accurate answers to your management questions. As this planting season is rolling along, farmers should be making to-do lists when planting has finished. How have you followed I your cash flow projection? Have you followed your machinery management plan? Are your repair expenses where you thought they would be? If not, how will you adjust? All these questions and others can easily be answered with accurate records and a comparison of your cash flow projection. Oh, and you will probably sleep better at night. "Knowing where I am at financially and from a management standpoint" is one of the top answers I get when I ask farmers what they value most about the Farm Business Management program. If you would like more information on the Farm Business Management program, please find a farm business management instructor at Grants available for water projects The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) announced today that $16.6 million in competitive grants is available for projects that will protect and restore Minnesota's streams, rivers, lakes and groundwater. Funding for the competitive grants is provided by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. BWSR Executive Director John Jaschke said interested citizens should contact an eligible local government unit to find out how they can support the grant application process and par- ticipate in local efforts to protect and restore water quality. "Most of these dollars will be spent on conservation projects on privately owned lands, so citizen involvement is the key to the success of this grant pro- gram," said Jaschke. Eligible projects include those that control stormwater runoff in urban and agricultural areas, or that will improve water quality by replacing problem septic systems, upgrading feedlots, or establishing native vegetation along shorelines in environmentally sensitive areas. Summaries of previously funded projects and more information about BWSR's role in the Legacy Amend- ment is available on the BWSR web- site Minnesota's cities, counties, soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs), watershed districts, watershed man- agement organizations, and joint pow- ers organizations of these local government units are eligible for the grants. The application period began Aug. 8 and the deadline to apply is Sept. 20. In addition to the competitive grants, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has $4.5 million available through its AgBMP Loan program, and interested landowners should apply for a loan during this same application period by contacting their SWCD. TAKE A FRIEND TO COLLEGE! / I Take Along The Ortonville Independent College and vocational students want to know what's happening back home: 9 months ... Order your copy today. 95 MN & SD III I I MAIL TO: II I ORTONVILLE INDEPENDENT i I Box 336 1 I Ortonville, MN 56278 i l NAME I CITY " STATE ZIP , .............. "'" E P E 'i9 D E N'T NSTRUCTI/E NEWSPAPER IN A LIVE COMMUNITY" I I I Page 12b INDEPENDENT Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011