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17.1025 Minnesota certification program.

Subdivision 1. Establishment. In cooperation with the University of Minnesota, the department of trade and economic development, and the board of animal health, the commissioner shall establish a program to certify agricultural production methods and agricultural products grown or processed within the state to assure the integrity of claims made by participating businesses. The commissioner may select and cooperate with private organizations that have established procedures and safeguards to justify claimed characteristics of the production process or the final certified product to conduct certification activities for third party producers.

Subd. 2. Certification process. The commissioner may establish guidelines for the certification program, which are not subject to chapter 14. Applications for certification must be submitted to the commissioner and must be evaluated by representatives of the commissioner, the University of Minnesota, the department of trade and economic development, other state agencies with regulatory authority or expertise in the subject matter of the application or in the certification process, and any other person named by the commissioner.

The commissioner shall make the final certification decision after the certification group prepares a recommendation. The application may be accepted, denied, or returned to the applicant for further action. The recommendation must be based upon the benefit of the certification to the producer or processor, the benefit to the state's agricultural economy, the costs to the state involved in certification and ongoing monitoring, the quality of internal and external audit controls to assure compliance with the terms of the certification, and other factors appropriate to best benefit the participants and the state.

Subd. 3. Intellectual property. The commissioner shall develop a logo and develop promotional material to best promote the use of certified products and procedures, and explore and implement procedures to best use the resources of the Internet in the promotion and distribution of Minnesota certified products and processes. To the extent practical, the Minnesota certification program must be coordinated with the Minnesota grown program under section 17.102 to accomplish the goals of both programs.

Subd. 4. Certification revocation or suspension; misdemeanor. A certification may be revoked or suspended by the commissioner without hearing if the terms of the certification are not being followed, the certification has become unused or obsolete, or the continued use of the certification is contrary to the interests of the state or the purpose of the certification program. Use of the certification after suspension or revocation is a misdemeanor and may also be enjoined by the commissioner in an action in district court.

Subd. 5. Minnesota certified account. A Minnesota certified account is created in the agricultural fund. The commissioner may establish fees in an amount estimated to make the certification program self-supporting. Fees may be determined on a case-by-case basis based on the services provided. All fees and reimbursements collected under this section must be deposited in the account. Money in the account, including interest earned, is annually appropriated to the commissioner to administer the Minnesota certification program.

Subd. 6. No guarantee or warranty. Certification does not constitute a guarantee or warranty as to any characteristic of any product or production process. The state and other parties involved in the certification decision may not be found liable for a certification or refusal to certify.

Subd. 7. Expiration. This section expires June 30, 2007.

HIST: 2000 c 477 s 2; 1Sp2001 c 2 s 21