Welcome to the Iowa Organic Association!  

The Iowa Organic Association (IOA) is a statewide, 501(c)3  non-profit organization committed to organic education, advocacy and cooperation. Our membership is a diverse community of Iowa’s organic farmers, gardeners, food and farm businesses, advocates and consumers who are devoted to building a more sustainable Iowa.


Recent News

 

"Spotlight on Organics" Webinar: Improving Water Quality through Organic Production with Dr. Delate - Wednesday, April 12 @ 12pm

The Iowa Learning Farms and the Iowa Organic Association have asked Dr. Kathleen Delate to present research conducted at Iowa State University about how soil health and water quality is improved through organic production systems by using longer crop rotations than conventional corn-soybean rotations. Small grains and perennial legume species, like alfalfa, are integral to supporting greater soil microbial populations and aggregate stability. Slower-release forms of nitrogen, required in certified organic production, are associated with less nitrate loading and greater water quality.

The webinar presentation will take place on Wednesday, April 21st at noon.

Dr. Delate is a Professor of Organic Agriculture in the Departments of Agronomy and Horticulture at Iowa State University where she is responsible for research, extension and teaching in organic agriculture.

WEBINAR LINK


"Spotlight on Organics" Webinar: Organic as a Climate Solution with Paul Mugge, organic farmer - Tuesday, April 13 @ 12pm

Join us on Tuesday, April 13th at noon for a webinar presentation and conversation with IOA Board Member, Paul Mugge, winner of the Leopold Center’s Spencer Award for Sustainable Agriculture, and the Master Researcher and Sustainable Agriculture Achievement awards from Practical Farmers of Iowa. Paul will present his on-farm research with additional resources to demonstrate how organic agriculture can mitigate some of the significant environmental issues we face today. 

Paul Mugge is an organic farmer from Sutherland, Iowa. He grew up on the farm where he now lives and works. Paul attended Iowa State University and worked as an engineer before returning to the family farm in 1976. He is a life-long environmentalist and his farm management has been a progression from conventional, to sustainable, to completely organic since 2001. In addition to farming, Paul substitute teaches at a local high school and is active in his local church and many organic, sustainable agriculture and environmental organizations. 

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ACTION ALERT: Contact your legislator to help expand small and mid-size meat processing in Iowa (March 22, 2021)

Expanding small and mid-size processing options has long been a priority for Iowa organic producers and consumers - and this need has been heightened both by COVID and increasing consumer demand for local and organically produced meat.

A new bill, HF 787, drafted by Rep Chad Ingels and introduced by the House Committee on Economic Growth, has advanced to the House Appropriations Committee.  IOA is working in collaboration with the Iowa Farmers Union and Practical Farmers of Iowa to expand awareness and support for this bill. The bill has bi-partisan support and your phone calls and emails can help the effort succeed. 

Please call or email your local legislators and share why expanding meat processing capacity is important for Iowa organic farmers, businesses and consumers.  A phone call might have a better chance of connecting with a legislator; and for email, it's recommended that you indicate that you're a constituent in the subject line of the email. ("From your district", "Your Constituent", etc.). Find your legislator.  

This bill does two things:

  • It would create a state fund and program for the purposes of providing financial assistance (grants, loans, etc.) to eligible businesses to expand access to small(er) scale meat processing options. 
  • The bill would also create a task force to investigate creating an artisanal butchery program or other workforce development initiatives to meat local and regional processing needs.

Why this bill is important to the organic community

  • A lack of meat processing capacity threatens existing business; farmers cannot meet current demand (let alone expand) due to inability to process animals and risk losing long-standing customers.  *Some farmers can't get a locker date until the end of 2022!
  • Farmers are unable to capitalize on unprecedented and increasing consumer demand for locally raised and processed meat.
  • A lack of processing capacity hampers business growth and development for Iowa farmer entrepreneurs.

"Spotlight on Organics" Webinar: Organic farming and the 2020 western IA drought

On Tuesday, March 16th, Iowa Organic Association delivered a webinar as part of the Spotlight on Organics series with Ron Rosmann on the 2020 Western Iowa Drought, Lessons Learned for Addressing Climate Change through Organic Farming.

Ron Rosmann, a founding board member and past president of IOA, and seasoned organic leader and Iowa producer will discuss how the farm and family weathered the challenges of the 2020 drought, derecho and pandemic, and how organic production helped offset some of those stresses. Ron and Maria, along with two of their sons, David and Daniel, and their families, own and operate Rosmann Family Farms near Harlan in western Iowa. The Rosmann's stopped the use of pesticides on their 700-acre farm in 1983 and became certified organic in 1994.

They have a diversified organic crop and livestock farm raising over 15 crops annually.  They have a cow-calf operation, a farrow to finish hog operation and egg layer operation.  Maria has a store on the farm and Daniel and his wife, Ellen, own and operate a local foods restaurant and a farm to table procurement and delivery business in Harlan.

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"Spotlight on Organics" Webinar: Seedling starts, tips and tricks from an organic vegetable farmer

On Tuesday, March 9th, Iowa Organic Association conducted a webinar for gardeners. IOA board member, Denise O'Brien, shared her tips on how to raise your vegetables from seed and how to be successful in your gardening endeavors. She will answered your questions at the end of the webinar, so stay tuned through the end.

Denise is an organic farmer at Rolling Acres Farm, an organic greenhouse in Atlantic, Iowa. Denise and her husband, Larry Harris, have been involved with organic production and cultivating local food for over 36 years. Denise is also founder of Women’s Food and Agriculture Network, was a candidate for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture in 2006, and former agriculture adviser in Afghanistan, and founder of the Women, Food and Agriculture Network.

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Webinar: Crop Insurance options for organic operations

On March 4th, 2021, Iowa Organic Association (IOA) delivered a webinar on Crop Insurance for Organic Operations.

The presenters for this webinar were, Kate Hansen, with the Center for Rural Affairs, and Joe Toillion, with Toillion Consulting Services Inc.. They discussed CFRA’s new publication, "Conversations from the Field: Crop Insurance for Organic Operations" and answered questions related to your specific needs.  

Kate is the policy assistant with the Center for Rural Affairs in Nevada, IA. She works on federal agriculture policy, including crop insurance and working lands conservation programs. Joe is a licensed agent & owner of Toillion Consulting Services. Serving Iowa & Missouri, specializing in organic crop insurance and livestock insurance.

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Growing Organic Expertise - January and Feb 2021 Workshops

The Iowa Organic Association (IOA) and regional partners delivered a series of virtual “Growing Organic Expertise in Iowa” workshops to provide the information, tools and resources needed for agriculture service providers and consultants to support farmers interested in organic transition, diversification and production.

Below are links to each of the recent three-hour “Growing Organic Expertise in Iowa” virtual workshops which include an agenda, as each workshop was slightly different. The webinars provided information from organic experts about the National Organic Program, organic certification and transition, organic standards and production practices and insight into current organic market trends and demands.  The target audience for the workshop includes: NRCS, Extension, IDALS, FSA, SWCD, RC&D, County Conservation, crop insurance agents, farm lenders, farming organizations, farmers, agriculture educators and students, and others interested in learning more about organic opportunities. 

Sioux City  Seymour  Hazelton  Kalona

IOA’s “Growing Organic Expertise in Iowa” workshop training series is made possible with grant support from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE).


Growing Stronger Together: A Collaborative Conference on Organic and Sustainable Farming

The Iowa Organic Association's Midwest Organic Pork Conference collaborated with MOSES, GrassWorks Grazing Conference, OGRAIN Organic Grain Conference, and Organic Vegetable Production Conference for "Growing Stronger Together: A Collaborative Conference on Organic and Sustainable Farming" for one virtual conference experience with more than 60 workshops and opportunities to connect through roundtables, meet-ups, and socials. The conference included a virtual exhibit space featuring suppliers, buyers, certifiers, consultants, and more. 

The virtual conference took place on Feb. 22-27, 2021.

The Midwest Organic Pork Conference shared the below content from last year’s cancelled MOPC as part of the 2021 Growing Stronger Collaborative Conference.

Organic Pork Topics:

  • Workshop: Lessons Learned about Parasites in Pastured Pigs, Diane DeWitt, University of MN
  • Workshop: Becoming an Organic Processor, Ty Gustafson, Story City Locker
  • Workshop: Economics for the new and transitioning organic pork producer, Dave Stender, ISU
  • Workshop: Hazelnut Finished Pork in the Upper Midwest, Pete Lammer, University of Wisconsin-Platteville
  • Workshop: Profitable Production Flow for the Organic and Pasture Based Pork Producer, Jude Becker, Becker Lane Organic
  • Roundtable: The 10 Alternative Veterinary Tools, Dr. Paul Dettlof

MOSES ORGANIC BROADCASTER: Demand for organic pork creates opportunity for producers plus processors

By Roz Lehman. It wasn’t that long ago when livestock roamed the landscape and rural communities thrived on a local producer-to-consumer food system. We don’t see pig huts or herds of grazing cows along our Midwest highways much anymore, but change is on the horizon. The demand for organic meat is growing, and the U.S. organic livestock sector needs to boost production and infrastructure to meet that demand.

The organic market continues to provide consistent and reliable returns for organic products, and we know consumers are willing to pay higher prices for organic food. Likewise, adding livestock to a crop production system can prove profitable by diversifying income streams and utilizing farm resources for feed and land management. The on-farm environmental and regenerative benefits include improved soil and water from a range of practices such as varying crop rotations, grazing, and holistic land and manure management methods.

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IOA 2020 Annual Meeting - Tues, Dec 1 

Thank you to everyone who joined the IOA Annual Meeting on Tuesday, Dec 1 (and for those that were interested and couldn't make it, you can still check it out)! 

We had our largest gathering ever with over 90 people attending. We are so excited to see Iowa’s organic community continuing to grow and come together. The information provided during the presentations and discussions revealed many common experiences, like why farmers choose organic, how farmers want to grow food for their community, but have trouble connecting with local and regional markets, that it is typical for farmers to work away from the farm just so they can farm, or how organic farms were resilient and productive despite extreme challenges faced this growing season.  The continued growth of the organic movement reinforces the desire for safe, quality food and strong local food systems.

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2019 USDA Organic Survey Results:  Iowa farming gets greener as demand for organic...grows

The numbers are in!  Every five years U.S. certified organic operations must complete an USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) organic survey to measure growth of the industry. 

The top ten organic producing states have pretty much stayed solid, with Iowa shifting from fifth to sixth in number of organic operations (779) and Ohio moving up to the fifth spot (785) - only by farms, not acres. Indiana squeezes in at ten, pushing out Maine. Iowa is still the number one producer of organic grains and hogs in the U.S. 

IOA staff and board members discussed the Iowa and U.S. growing organic economy last week with Des Moines Register's Donnelle Eller.  Click MORE to read The Register article and find links for 2019 Iowa and U.S. survey results.   

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Webinar: Bryce Irlbeck, An organic transition experience - Mon, Nov 10 @ Noon

The Iowa Organic Association (IOA) will be delivering a webinar on Tuesday, November 10th, from 12 - 1pm CST, discussing the economics of running a profitable organic row crop farming operation.

Bryce Irlbeck, Owner of B&B Irlbeck Farms and Founder of AgriSecure, will present the challenges and rewards of organic row crop farming. Bryce will share his family’s long history of farming in Iowa. He will discuss the reasons he transitioned from conventional agriculture to organic production and describe the challenges and the rewards of owning and operating an organic farm.

Bryce now runs a 4,000 acre organic operation with his dad where they grow alfalfa, corn, soybeans, peas, barley, canola, and rye. Recognizing that his organic farm was succeeding while many others struggled, Bryce founded AgriSecure in 2018 to help farmers in his community and beyond learn how to profit from organic farming too.

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Derecho Resources

Thank you to Kathleen Delate, Ph.D. at ISU for leading efforts within the organic community to collect data about storm damage and loss, and for providing many resources for those affected by the August 10 derecho.  If you are stuck, unable to find the support you need – please let us know and we will help you.  Iowa has now received a federal disaster declaration so more funding for assistance should be available.


Share your damage estimates with Dr. Delate.


Show Your Support with IOA Merch!

We are excited to share two new IOA items with you!

We now have 100% organic cotton t-shirts with an awesome Iowa graphic representing the diversity of our agriculture landscape – they come in green or blue.  

Also, another fan favorite, something to keep you cool or hot, depending on the weather or your mood -- IOA-branded Klean Kanteen 20 oz insulated water bottles with sports cap. 

A portion of each purchase will support the work and mission of IOA.  Visit our Merchandise page for more information and to purchase. Thank you!!

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Protect Your Crops From Pesticide Drift and Damage

IOA worked with partners at the Iowa Department of Land Stewardship (IDALS) to develop a postcard to raise awareness about FieldWatch™ registration.  FieldWatch™ is a non-profit that provides online registry tools to promote communication between producers of pesticide-sensitive (i.e. specialty) crops, beekeepers and pesticide applicators.  

The online FieldWatch™ registry supports ongoing stewardship activities to reduce incidences of off-target pesticide exposure. The registries provide state of the art mapping features that provide applicators the locations of registered specialty sites. The boundaries on map entries are user-submitted specialty/sensitive site designations. 

Registration is free and the service is easy to use.  For more information or with questions, contact IDALS at 515-242-6236 or sign-up at https://iowaagriculture.gov/SensitiveCropRegistry.

If you do experience exposure from pesticide drift, contact IDALS Pesticide Bureau at 515-281-8591 or [email protected] as soon as possible to file a report and initiate sample testing.