Farm Bill Funding Available to Organic Producers and Handlers

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that approximately $13 million in Farm Bill funding is now available for organic certification cost-share assistance, making certification more accessible for small certified producers and handlers.

“Consumer demand for organic products is surging across the country,” said Secretary Tom Vilsack. “To meet this demand, we need to make sure that small farmers who choose to grow organic products can afford to get certified. Organic food is now a multi-billion dollar industry, and helping this sector continue to grow creates jobs across the country.”

The certification assistance is distributed through two programs within the Agricultural Marketing Service. Through the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program, $11.5 million is available to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. Territories. Through the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost-Share Program, an additional $1.5 million is available to organic operations in Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

These programs provide cost-share assistance through participating states to USDA certified organic producers and handlers for certification-related expenses they incur from October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014. Payments cover up to 75% of an individual producer’s or handler’s certification costs, up to a maximum of $750 per certification. To receive cost-share assistance, organic producers and handlers should contact their state agencies. Each state will have their own guidelines and requirements for reimbursement, and the National Organic Program (NOP) will assist states as much as possible to successfully implement the programs. State contact information can be found on the NOP Cost Share Website,

In 2012 alone, USDA issued close to 10,000 cost-share reimbursements totaling over $6.5 million, to support the organic industry and rural America. Additional information about resources available to small and mid-sized producers, including accessing capital, risk management, locating market opportunities and land management is available on USDA’s Small and Mid-Sized Farmer Resources webpage.

USDA has a number of new and expanded efforts to connect organic farmers and businesses with resources that will ensure the continued growth of the organic industry domestically and abroad. During this Administration, USDA has signed four major trade agreements on organic products, and is also helping organic stakeholders access programs that support conservation, provide access to loans and grants, fund organic research and education, and mitigate pest emergencies. Through the NOP, USDA has helped organic farmers and businesses achieve $35 billion annually in U.S. retail sales. The organic community includes over 25,000 organic businesses in more than 120 different countries around the world.

This funding announcement for organic certification cost-share assistance was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit
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Cicada Damage

MAA Members reporting Cicada damage to Aronia plantsCicada Damage

A couple of days ago, an MAA member from Leon, IA reported damage to her Aronia plants:

The 17 year brood of cicadas in the area was the suspected culprit.
Another member (St. Charles, IA) with similar cicada damage to his plants replied with this source: It appears to have very good coverage of the basic topics relating to cicada infestation, life span, reporting, siting data (, recommended prevention, etc. According to the source, the best protection is ¼” netting wrapped all around the tree or bush. Mature trees are not often affected negatively, but younger plants can experience severe damage, since the female creates a slit in the branches (1/2” or less in diameter) to lay eggs, which subsequently weakens the branch, causing breaks and possible plant death.
This member estimates a 15-25% yield loss due to cicada damage and believes his 4-year plants will survive, but that first and second year plants may experience some plant morbidity.
Northern Illinois may be spared from periodic (13 or 17 year cycle cicada broods) this year. A Crete, Illinois member offered this link explaining the periodic infestation and its impact on northern Illinois:
MAA would like members to contact us to report your experiences with cicadas this year and what type and of damage you may be experiencing along with the extent of that damage.
Please email Scott Boersma, with whatever information you may have regarding cicadas in your area.

Thank you,
MAA Board

2014 MAA Annual Conference

The 4th Annual Midwest Aronia Association Annual Conference
Date: Feb 27-Mar 1, 2014
Location: Omaha, NE ; Ramada Plaza
Registration will be open up this week. (1-13-14)

2014 Conference Schedule
Information on Conference Speakers

Vendor/Sponsor form and information

A block of rooms has been reserved for February 26-March 1 at the Ramada Plaza Convention Center and Coco Key Water Resort.  When you call, 1-888-288-4982, to make your reservation be sure to ask for the Midwest Aronia Association rate.  They have discounted rooms to $99 per night for us.  This rate only applies if booked before 2/10/2014.  Remember this includes two free passes per night to the water park!

Ramada Plaza Convention Center and Coco Key Water Resort – 1-888-288-4982
3321 S 72nd Omaha, NE 68124  
Hotel 402.393.3950 | Direct 402.517.3072 | Fax 402.393.1670

2013 4th Quarter Newsletter

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2013 3rd Quarter Newsletter

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2013 2nd Quarter Newsletter

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2013 1st Quarter Newsletter

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2012 4th Quarter Newsletter

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Baking With Aronia – Farm News

Featured article from Farm News with Mike and Mary Mathiasen.  Click Here