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Scholarships available to transitioning and recently certified organic farmers

Transitioning to organic farming can present financial uncertainty for farmers, but a special program is available in Minnesota to help them accomplish their goals. The "Tools for Transition" program, led by the University of Minnesota (UMN), Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and other partners, provides scholarships covering up to 90 percent of farm business management tuition to qualifying farmers.

Now in its second year, Tools for Transition is aimed at helping farmers better understand the cost and process of transitioning to organic. Minnesota field crop or dairy farmers who have any acres in transition or who have been certified fewer than three years are eligible to apply, and the program's leaders are eager to enroll more farmers this year.

Participating farmers are giving Tools for Transition the thumbs up. One of the 32 farmers enrolled in the program said farm business management education has helped him understand costs, production possibilities, and marginal returns that can make or break a farmer in today's markets.

Farmers in Tools for Transition work directly with a farm business management instructor on a personally designed program to help them understand and better manage their own cost of production, profitability, and other financial measures. UMN agricultural economists analyze the data to look for patterns and trends, while carefully protecting the privacy of all participants' financial information.

Program participants get the chance to participate in special workshops and to receive a discount to attend the annual Minnesota Organic Conference.

To learn more about the scholarships, call administrator Meg Moynihan, at 651-201-6616.