Sounds scary, right? Well it’s really not, nor is it a new Anti-Flag song…but if you can say that you’re being watched by the MCIA, then you’ve probably applied for USDA Organic certification, as they are Minnesota’s only USDA-Accredited Certifying Agent.
The Minnesota Crop Improvement Association is a non-profit organization that was started in 1903 for the purpose of promoting “the breeding and growing of better varieties of field crops.” That is exactly what they continue doing today, along with running several other related programs they’ve since taken on, such as the aforementioned USDA National Organic Program for certification and the seed certification program.
The seed certification program ensures that when farmers buy seed they are getting what they pay for, and if it isn’t what the label says (say their crop fails to germinate), they can refer to the label’s guaranteed analysis when seeking reimbursement. A few things that you should find on a certified seed label are: a seed lot’s purity (that is, the percentage of a bag that is actually the variety of seed you’re buying); the percentage of inert (stable/not reactive) material; the percentage of weed seed, other crops or varietal seeds; and your seed’s rate of germination. If seed is not certified, you ought not buy it. That’s the message to take away.
To find out about other programs and publications that MCIA offers go to www.mncia.org, or visit them on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul Campus (1900 Hendon Avenue) while volunteering at Cornercopia Student Organic Farm.