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Organic News

Montana Cherry Growers to Receive Survey

Survey results will determine future of cherry checkoff

Montana Cherry Growers to Receive Survey

Helena, Mont. –  Montana’s cherry growers will have the opportunity to make their voice heard in the coming weeks. The Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) is submitting a referendum to all known growers and producers of cherries in Montana to determine whether to continue the Montana Cherry Research & Market Development Program, commonly known as the cherry checkoff. Paper ballots will be mailed on Thursday, November 16, 2017 and must be returned via postage-paid envelope by Friday, December 1, 2017.

MDA Director Thomas Joins Fellow North American State & Provincial Agriculture Officials for Trade Talks

MDA Director Thomas Joins Fellow North American State & Provincial Agriculture Officials for Trade Talks

Helena, Mont. – Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) Director Ben Thomas joined state and provincial counterparts from the United States, Mexico and Canada last week to stress the necessity of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for agriculture and to call on their respective federal governments to ensure a modernized NAFTA does not harm agriculture. North American state and provincial agriculture officials gathered last week in Denver, Colo. for the 26th annual Tri-National Agricultural Accord. The Tri-National Agricultural Accord represents a longstanding commitment among the senior state and provincial agricultural officials of North America to work together collaboratively on agricultural trade and development issues.

Montana Crunch Time is Tuesday, October 24th

Celebrate National Food Day and Farm to School Month by eating local apples

Montana Crunch Time is Tuesday, October 24th

Helena, Mont. – The Montana Department of Agriculture and Montana Office of Public Instruction are joining schools, community partners, and individuals across Montana in celebrating Food Day and National Farm to School Month by crunching into locally-grown apples on Tuesday, October 24th at 2:30 p.m. for Montana Crunch Time.

 

MDA Organic Certification Program
Phone : (406) 444-7804
E-mail : agrorganic@mt.gov
Fax : (406) 444-9466
302 N Roberts
Helena, MT 59601

Frequently Asked Questions

For more information, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP) offers resources to make organic certification more accessible, affordable, and attainable. These resources help farms and businesses understand the USDA organic standards, certification process, and inspections in more depth. To receive regular updates from the USDA NOP, subscribe to the USDA Organic Insider.

USDA Market News provides price, volume, and other related information for commodities and products that have been grown, processed and certified to USDA’s National Organic Program standards.

New applicants can apply at anytime, but must be 45 days before harvest, and renewal applications are due on the following dates:

  • Producer Applications are due March 15th
  • Producer Sales Reports are due March 15th
  • Handler Applications are due September 15th
  • Handler Sales Reports are due September 15th

Download applications and reporting forms and find information on additional due dates on the Organic Program Forms page.

Find a specific certified organic farm or business, or search for an operation with specific characteristics at the USDA Organic INTEGRITY Database.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced at the end of 2015 that they will extend the organic farmer exemption from conventional commodity checkoffs to ALL organic farmers, effective February 29, 2016. Organic farmers are no longer required to pay into conventional checkoff promotion programs that promote conventional products directly competing with their organic products.

For more information:

 

Organic Program Goals

  1. Provide professional, efficient and objective organic certification services to producers and handlers.
  2. Facilitate the growth and success of organic agriculture in Montana.
  3. Protect consumers by monitoring and enforcing compliance with state and federal laws governing organic production, handling and product labeling.

The program is an accredited USDA certifier of organic producers and handlers under the USDA National Organic Program.

The program facilitates international marketing of organic products with Canada, the European Union, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Switzerland.

Montana Organic Commodity Advisory Council

The eight-member Montana Organic Commodity Advisory Committee advises the department on the operation of the state's Organic Certification Program. Under Montana administrative rules, the department director serves on the committee, along with certified organic producers, a certified organic handler, and a consumer representative.

Board Members

Name City Phone Email Term End Qualifications
Ben Thomas, Director Helena (406) 444-3156 agr@mt.gov   Agriculture Director, Statutory Appointment
Allison Harmon Bozeman (406) 994-4133 harmon@montana.edu 8/19/2018 Consumer
Matt Johnson Hinsdale (406) 648-5407 jriorganic@gmail.com 8/19/2018 Producer
Ty O'Connor Broadus (406) 554-3412 oconnorranch@yahoo.com 8/19/2017 Producer/Livestock
Catherine Odden Dutton (406) 463-2410 mocao2410@gmail.com 8/19/2017 At-Large Representative
Karl Sutton Polson (406) 883-0974 freshrootsorganicfarm@gmail.com 8/19/2018 Producer
Mark Smith Lavina (406) 667-2332 mark@aspen-island-ranch.com 8/19/2018 Livestock/Producer
Sam Schmidt Great Falls (800) 548-8554 sam@montanamilling.com 8/19/2019 Handler

Resources

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP) offers resources to make organic certification more accessible, affordable, and attainable. These resources help farms and businesses understand the USDA organic standards, certification process, and inspections in more depth. To receive regular updates from the USDA NOP, subscribe to the USDA Organic Insider.

Webinars

Webinars on the latest in organic farming practices and research are available through eXtension.org, a part of the cooperative university extension system.

Online Resources

Education

Check back, more organic education information coming soon! Please contact the MDA Organic Program for information or assistance.