AMES, Iowa – The National Organic Program with the United States Department of Agriculture has provided support for an Iowa State University research farm to be featured in a video highlighting organic inspection.
Iowa State’s Neely-Kinyon Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm, located in Greenfield, is the featured farm, and staff with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will showcase the farm’s Long-Term Agroecological Research experiment, highlighting organic inspection. In all, the video will feature 12 organic farms and their inspectors, taking viewers through “a day in the life of an organic inspector” on a wide range of farms – from organic grains to vegetables and livestock operations.
The video is part of a grant project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Organic Program to “improve the oversight capacity of the organic industry by supporting and expanding the pool of qualified inspectors, reviewers and other professionals who oversee organic production now and in the future.”
Kathleen Delate, organic specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, leads the Iowa State component, with assistance from extension’s Farm, Food and Enterprise Development program.
“We were so excited to have the LTAR selected for this production, which will be the only university research site featured in this video,” said Delate.
Only nine projects were selected for funding across the U.S. to “support the long-term growth of the organic industry,” which reached $57.5 billion in 2021, by expanding the pool of well qualified organic oversight professionals who ensure consistency, fairness and the integrity of the system.
As part of the project, videos for classroom use were created by Olivia Hanlon, agriculture and natural resources specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach's Farm, Food and Enterprise Development, who worked on the project, that showcased a government organic inspector and a private agency inspector.
“We wanted to profile inspectors who had gone through the week-long International Organic Inspectors Association training and expressed confidence that organic inspection and review are viable careers,” said Hanlon.
Iowa State is working with a certification agency, Oregon Tilth (lead), the University of Wisconsin, Oregon State University and the IOIA to create materials to educate and support anyone interested in an organic certification career in their “Bridging the Gaps: Enhancing Organic Programs in Postsecondary Education to Expand and Diversify the Certification Workforce Pipeline” project.
The project also emphasizes diversity and inclusion, focusing on historically underserved communities. The outputs (videos, classroom modules, PowerPoint presentations) from this project will be available for underserved communities to help “develop the next generation of diverse, well-qualified organic professionals.” Resources developed in this project will become publicly available through USDA-AMS-NOP.
A workshop on “What You Need to Know for Organic Certification” will be offered at the 22nd Iowa Organic Conference, to be held in Iowa City Nov. 20-21.
The workshop will feature an organic certification agency, an organic inspector, and an organic farmer who are well versed in the rules, regulations and paperwork required to acquire the organic seal for your crops or ingredients. The workshop is also intended for those already certified organic.