(a) In order to promote opportunities for organic agriculture in Minnesota, the commissioner shall:
(1) survey producers and support services and organizations to determine information and research needs in the area of organic agriculture practices;
(2) work with the University of Minnesota to demonstrate the on-farm applicability of organic agriculture practices to conditions in this state;
(3) direct the programs of the department so as to work toward the promotion of organic agriculture in this state;
(4) inform agencies of how state or federal programs could utilize and support organic agriculture practices; and
(5) work closely with producers, the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Trade Office, and other appropriate organizations to identify opportunities and needs as well as ensure coordination and avoid duplication of state agency efforts regarding research, teaching, marketing, and extension work relating to organic agriculture.
(b) By November 15 of each even-numbered year the commissioner, in conjunction with the task force created in paragraph (c), shall report on the status of organic agriculture in Minnesota to the legislative policy and finance committees and divisions with jurisdiction over agriculture. The report must include:
(1) a description of current state or federal programs directed toward organic agriculture, including significant results and experiences of those programs;
(2) a description of specific actions the department of agriculture is taking in the area of organic agriculture, including the proportion of the department's budget spent on organic agriculture;
(3) a description of current and future research needs at all levels in the area of organic agriculture;
(4) suggestions for changes in existing programs or policies or enactment of new programs or policies that will affect organic agriculture;
(5) a description of market trends and potential for organic products;
(6) available information, using currently reliable data, on the price received, yield, and profitability of organic farms, and a comparison with data on conventional farms; and
(7) available information, using currently reliable data, on the positive and negative impacts of organic production on the environment and human health.
(c) The commissioner shall appoint a Minnesota Organic Advisory Task Force to advise the commissioner on policies and practices to improve organic agriculture in Minnesota. The task force must consist of the following residents of the state:
(1) three farmers using organic agriculture methods;
(2) two organic food wholesalers, retailers, or distributors;
(3) one representative of organic food certification agencies;
(4) two organic food processors;
(5) one representative from the Minnesota Extension Service;
(6) one representative from a Minnesota postsecondary research institution;
(7) one representative from a nonprofit organization representing producers;
(8) one at-large member;
(9) one representative from the United States Department of Agriculture; and
(10) one organic consumer representative.
Terms, compensation, and removal of members are governed by section 15.059, subdivision 6. The task force must meet at least twice each year and expires on June 30, 2009.
(d) For the purposes of expanding, improving, and developing production and marketing of the organic products of Minnesota agriculture, the commissioner may receive funds from state and federal sources and spend them, including through grants or contracts, to assist producers and processors to achieve certification, to conduct education or marketing activities, to enter into research and development partnerships, or to address production or marketing obstacles to the growth and well-being of the industry.
(e) The commissioner may facilitate the registration of state organic production and handling operations including those exempt from organic certification according to Code of Federal Regulations, title 7, section 205.101, and certification agents operating within the state.