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Members sought for organic task force

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is seeking to fill 15 seats on the Minnesota Organic Advisory Task Force (OATF), which was reauthorized by recent legislation.

The OATF advises the Commissioner of Agriculture and the University of Minnesota about policies and programs that will improve organic agriculture in the state.

Minnesota ranks fifth nationally in organic acres harvested according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's most recent census. Minnesota organic producers reported nearly 40 million dollars in sales of organic crops, livestock, poultry, and related products in 2007.

Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Gene Hugoson says this growing agriculture and food sector needs and deserves support from public institutions like the Department of Agriculture and the University.

"More Minnesota farmers are converting acres to organic production and a strong task force will help us make sure our resources are used effectively," Hugoson said. "We need people with a wide variety of ideas and opinions that can help us create and provide programs that will assist organic growers and marketers."

Organic Advisory Task Force members serve two-year terms and must include three farmers using organic agriculture methods, one representative of organic certification agencies, one wholesaler or distributor of organic products, two organic processors, one retailer of organic products, one representative from University of Minnesota Extension, one University of Minnesota faculty member, one representative from a nonprofit organization representing producers, one representative from the United States Department of Agriculture, one organic consumer representative, and two public (at-large) members. All members must be residents of Minnesota. The group will meet approximately four times per year.

Task force vacancies are filled through the state's open appointments process. The application form is available online at or by calling the Minnesota Secretary of State's office at 1-877-551-6767. Commissioner Hugoson encourages applicants to submit a cover letter describing their interest and/or a brief resume along with their application forms.

The deadline to apply for these positions is June 23. The new OATF members will be appointed by Commissioner Hugoson in consultation with the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, the dean and director of University of Minnesota Extension, and the dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.