Organic Farming

Resources for Organic Farmers in the Midwest region

The University of Minnesota is leading a multi-year, multi-state organic benchmarking effort in partnership with Minnesota State Farm Business Management (FBM) program to collect and analyze organic financial data. Through this multi-state effort, organic farmers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota can receive a 25-50% cost-share for farm business management participation. Funding for this benchmarking effort is provided through the USDA-Organic Research and Extension Initiative Program (2019-51300-30484) for 2019-2022.

Organic Benchmarking

The organic benchmarking cost share program creates the opportunity for certified organic producers to participate in FBM at a reduced tuition rate for up to 3 years (2019-2022).  Organic producers are eligible if they are an organic dairy farm or raise any of the following organic crops:

  • Alfalfa
  • Corn (for grain)
  • Corn silage
  • Hay/Haylage
  • Soybeans
  • Wheat

Farmers enrolled in an FBM program reap a number of benefits, including:

  • Work one-one-one with a financial expert to enhance management and financial capacity on your organic farm
  • Individualized organic benchmarking reports for your farm
  • Improved communication with lenders and other agricultural professionals that support your operation
  • 50% cost-share for new FBM farms and 25% cost-share for existing FBM farms

Organic data submitted to FINBIN will be used in an aggregate form to provide regional benchmark reports and build Extension programming and curriculum regarding the financial stability of organic production. A minimum number of 30 farms are needed for an aggregate benchmark to be generated and reported. An example of an organic dairy farm FINBIN benchmark report is available at  finbin.umn.edu/Output/724665.pdf

How to apply in Minnesota:

Please fill out the online application form at z.umn.edu/OrganicFBM

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and all farmers and FBM instructors will be notified of application status no later than 15th of the month following the application submission.

To learn more about the FBM program in Minnesota, contact Bethany Halverson (Bethany.halverson@clcmn.edu); in Wisconsin, contact Brad Sirianni (SirianniB@westerntc.edu); in North Dakota, contact Jason Fewell (jason.fewell@ndscs.edu).

Questions about USDA-OREI grant (2019-51300-30484): Joleen Hadrich, jhadrich@umn.edu or Pauline Van Nurden, pvannurd@umn.edu  or at 612-626-5620.

Links, Resources and Information

Organic Broadcaster article

Minnesota Dept of Ag organic information 

USDA organic fact sheet

University of Minnesota organic food and agriculture  

Transitioning to Organic information