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.
IOA is Hiring an Admin Coordinator and Education & Outreach Coordinator
JOIN OUR TEAM! The Iowa Organic Association is seeking a part-time Administrative Coordinator and part-time Education and Outreach Coordinator.
Organic is a rapidly growing movement, the fastest growing agriculture industry in the U.S., where more people are turning to organic practices and products because of climate, health, and food concerns – and to ensure a lasting legacy for Iowa’s future farming generations.
IOA is also growing rapidly and we are expanding our team to meet the needs of Iowa’s growing organic community. Check out the links below for more information about both positions.
Admin Coord Education-Outreach Coord
Workshop: IDALS and FSA Organic Resources – Tuesday, Feb 28 in Des Moines from 12 - 3 p.m.
With more consumers demanding organic foods, and organic sales surpassing $63 billion in 2021, Iowa farmers have an outstanding opportunity to diversify their farming operations and convert some of their acreages to organic.
Join IOA, Jamey Meyer (IDALS) and Amanda Weigel (FSA) on Tuesday, February 28, from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. at the Forest Ave Library, 1326 Forest Ave in Des Moines, for an Introduction to Organics workshop including information about organic certification, an overview of National Organic Program (NOP) Regulations, and USDA programs and resources available to organic and transitioning producers.
Workshop: Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) & Produce Safety Rule – Feb 21
Keeping food safe to eat is paramount, no matter where it is produced, whether conventional or organic, whether the operation is small, medium, or large, whether it’s fresh or processed foods.
Andrew Salazar, ISU Extension Education Specialist, will lead a workshop at the Boone County Extension Office, 1327 SE Marshall St, to provide information and resources about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the Produce Safety Rule.
Food manufacturers have an important role to play in preventing foodborne illnesses. The 2011 FSMA outlines seven rules that translate into specific actions at each point in the global supply chain that were intended to reduce contamination and make it easier to implement the FSMA changes.
FSMA rules only apply to foods regulated by the FDA and associated with commercial farms, packing operations, and food processing facilities. If you have to register with the FDA, then you most likely need to comply with FSMA.
Webinar: Farming for Good Health with Nick Wallace & 99 Counties – Feb 14
The consumer demand for local, organic food and products continues to climb year after year. Zoom in on Tuesday, February 14th at 12 p.m., with Nick Wallace to learn about his farming background and the vision and motivation for 99 Counties -- a member meat cooperative founded in the fall of 2022 to elevate organic, regenerative agriculture practices and to provide products valued and desired by consumers.
Nick is an organic grain and grassfed livestock farmer and regional local foods distributor through Wallace Farms serving Iowa and Chicagoland since 2003. In September 2022, Nick co-launched 99 Counties, an Iowa-based meat marketing company focused on artisan local meat delivered within Iowa and the Chicagoland regions.
99 Counties was co-founded with a mission to change the relationship with farming and food by connecting local consumers with the highest-quality locally grown meat, and to be known as a regional food systems leader committed to farming practices that improve the health of humans, animals and the environment through regenerative agriculture.
Webinar: Crop Insurance for Organic Producers – Feb 7
Allen Smith of Optimum Service Group discussed a range of crop insurance options available to organic producers.
Allen shared about available policies, products and dates relevant to organic growers, provide guidance on how to best choose your coverage, and how to report your production (planted or prevented planted acres) and losses at the end of the year.
Since 2009, Allen has been writing organic and specialty crop insurance policies in six states across the Midwest and is committed to understanding and supporting the needs of organic producers.
Webinar: Chemical Trespass Claim Process with Larry Steinbronn – Jan 31
Occurrences of herbicide and pesticide drift continue to increase in Iowa and across the U.S., and many organic farmers are unsure about what to do if a field or crop has been exposed to chemical drift. Unfortunately, drift can have drastic ramifications on USDA Organic Certification, with a possible loss of a certified crop and/or acres for that operation. Currently, there is little to no recourse for organic farmers when incidents of drift result in financial or certification losses for those farms.
Larry Steinbronn, an organic farmer from Waverly, Iowa, shared his personal experience of how he handled glyphosate drift claims and the successful outcomes. He also addressed the role of IDALS in drift cases, lab testing options, and guidelines, methods, and new technologies for documenting damage and loss.
USDA RMA Road Show: Organic Crop Insurance Workshop in Davenport (& Virtual) – Jan 24
The Iowa Organic Association is partnering with the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) for a two-part workshop on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 at the Eastern Davenport Library located at 6000 Eastern Avenue. The workshop will focus on Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) program, Micro Farm program, the newly implemented Transitional and Organic Grower Assistance (TOGA) program, and other crop insurance options for organic producers. A morning workshop (9 a.m. - 12 p.m.) has been coordinated for agents, advisors and consultants and an afternoon workshop (1 p.m. - 4 p.m.) has been coordinated forproducers. An online viewing option of the workshop is also available, please view the event details in the calendar for more information and to RSVP.
Webinar: Dicamba and Glyphosate Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessments – Jan 17
Findings from the CDCs newly published, first national glyphosate study reveals that over four-fifths of the US population who are six years and older are regularly being exposed to the herbicide glyphosate. Exposure to Glyphosate Study Findings
Dr. Charles Benbrook, Executive Director of the Heartland Health Research Alliance (HHRA) and cooperator of The Heartland Study, presented a webinar summarizing these new CDC findings, as well as a broader discussion about HHRA’s research highlighting the health and ecological risk assessments of glyphosate and dicamba use and exposure and the value and importance of greater, comprehensive research to better understand the effects of herbicide exposure on human and environmental health.
Webinar: Regenerative Organic Certification – Jan 10
Elizabeth Whitlow, Executive Director of Regenerative Organic Alliance, presented a webinar on Tuesday, January 10 about ROA and Regenerative Organic Certification (ROC).
Regenerative Organic Certified® is a revolutionary new certification for food, fiber, and personal care ingredients that represents the highest standard for organic agriculture in the world, with stringent requirements for soil health, animal welfare, and social fairness. ROC® uses the USDA Certified Organic standard as a baseline. From there, it adds important criteria and benchmarks that incorporate the three major pillars of regenerative organic agriculture into one certification.
IOA 2022 Annual Meeting: Organic For Good Health – Dec 1
The theme for the Annual Meeting, Organic for Good Health, really focused on how our health is tied to the environment, agriculture, and food in so many, many ways. We know that no one is going to swoop in and solve the vast challenges within our environmental, health, and food systems -– so we must choose the food, the land practices, the local amenities and services that enrich our health, quality of life, and diverse communities.
For those that could not join us in person, we recorded each of the presentations from the evening. IOA is making great strides in building awareness and support for greater organic production and support in Iowa. Both Angela and Dr. Nish offered their wisdom and expertise validating the value and importance of organic food and principles for good health.
Executive Director Update
Dr. Andy Nish
Webinar: New Crop Insurance Options for Organic Producers, Wednesday, November 16
The Iowa Organic Association and Megan Vaith with Northbourne Organic Crop Insurance, LLC, will present a webinar on Wednesday, November 16 at 12 p.m. about new and existing crop insurance options for organic and specialty crop farmers, including information about the USDA’s new Transitional and Organic Growing Assistance (TOGA) Program.
Are you a producer transitioning to organic or maybe you already grow a certified organic grain or feed crop? Are those crops covered with Federal crop insurance? If the answer is yes, you can now get premium assistance from the USDA for the 2023 reinsurance year through the TOGA Program. It’s offered by the USDA’s Risk Management Agency, and it can reduce your overall crop insurance premium bills, and help you continue to use an organic agricultural system.
Webinar: NRCS CSP Works for Organic Producers on Tuesday, October 4
The Iowa Organic Association has invited Rubyana Neely, Iowa NRCS CSP Program Manager, to lead a webinar on Tuesday, October 4 from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. to discuss how the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) can be beneficial to organic producers. Sign up deadline for FY2023 is October 7, 2022.
CSP provides many benefits including increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife habitat improvements, and increased resilience to weather extremes. CSP is intended for working lands including cropland, pastureland, nonindustrial private forest land and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of a tribe.
Organic Workshop & Farm Tour -- Tools for Organic Transition and Production in Cherokee on August 31
The Iowa Organic Association, Dakota’s Best Seed and Northbourne Organic Crop Insurance are partnering to deliver Growing Organic Expertise, a full day workshop for farmers, ag consultants and others interested in learning about organic production, tools and resources to broaden participation and success in the organic industry.
This full-day workshop will include presentations from organic specialists in the morning, a farm-to-table organic lunch, and an organic farmer panel and field visit at Travis Otto's farm in the afternoon. Travis has been certified organic since 2016 and farms 250 acres in a 5-year rotation of corn/beans/corn/barley with alfalfa interceded, and one year of alfalfa after the seeding year. Workshop topics will cover USDA organic standards, crop options and rotations for organic transition and production and organic markets.
Organic Transition and Diverse Production Systems at Three Sisters Farm in Williams on August 24
Ortrude Dial, owner and operator of Three Sisters Farm in Williams will host a field day to share about her journey into organic production and showcase her diverse organic farm.
The field day will be led by Ortrude and Matt Miller, another organic farmer from north central Iowa, who has helped her manage weed issues on her farm. We’ll start at the little historic church located on the farm and then tour the organic field crops under a four-year rotation of corn, soybeans, oats, legumes and cover crops, and also visit the acres used for rotational grazing for over 400 ewes.
Webinar: Valent Biosciences on August 9.
Join IOA and Valent Biosciences for a webinar that will cover a range of topics on how to effectively use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) biopesticides in your operation. We'll cover topics like how Bt and DiPel work, how to decide which Bt strain best suits your needs, and best practices for mixing and applying.
For generations DiPel® Biological Insecticide has been used in conventional and organic production alike to sustainably control caterpillar pests. First registered in 1971, DiPel is celebrating 50 years of crop protection, all that time being made in Iowa.
Organic Prairie Farm Management & Seed Production in Williamsburg on August 8
Christine Taliga-Burton, her husband John and daughter Anna Burton, are hosts for the Organic Prairie Farm Management & Seed Production field day at Burtal Farm near Williamsburg. For the past 23 years, Christine and her family have been committed to using organic farming practices to restore tallgrass prairie on their farm and fulfill their vision of farming in harmony with nature, resulting in improved soil health, clean water and thriving diverse farm habitats. The implementation of prairie restoration practices has helped conserve and enhance farm resources while offering a sustainable family enterprise.
This field day will include a farm tour with Christine, John, and Anna as they showcase their prairie areas and share about weed management efforts, conservation challenges and their new journey into selling certified organic prairie pollinator seed and plant products for the home gardener (@Etsy, BurtalFarmSeed). Andrew Olson from UNI Tallgrass Prairie Center will join us during the field day to answer questions and offer resources about prairie restoration opportunities in Iowa.
FLOLO Farms Showcasing Organic Practices, Research and Resources in West Union on July 22
The FLOLO Farms Organic Field Day hosted by Loran and Brenda Steinlage is part of their week-long Field Week to offer education and support about innovative alternatives to traditional corn and soybean production and the value and benefits of regenerative and diverse farming systems. This field day includes a full day of networking, farm tours and presentations from Loran, OGRAIN, Rodale, the Iowa Organic Association and a farmer panel to offer a broad range of organic expertise and resources for those wanting more information.
To Till or Not to Till? Building Soil Organically - a workshop for ag advisors by OATS in Keota on July 18
Iowa Organic Association in collaboration with the Organic Agronomy Training Services (OATS) hosted a full day workshop and field day at The Wooden Wheel Winery and Levi Lyle's farm in Keota, Iowa focused on organic production and how tillage is used to protect and enhance the soil on organic field crop farms. Presenters and a farmer panel shared information about how tillage is used (and not used) to protect and enhance the soil on organic field crop farms.
After lunch we gathered at Levi's farm to learn about his organic production plan in his organic soybean fields and how he uses cover crops, a roller crimper and weed zapper to manage weeds in the field. Kathleen Delate shared about the research she and Levi have been conducting since 2020 in organic no-till corn and soybean production. We ended the day on a high note with Levi and his daughter sharing their musical talents - what a special treat!
Thank you to OATS for coordinating and cooperating with IOA to deliver this full day workshop and farm tour! Thanks to Levi for his time and generosity in preparing and hosting us at his farm. And thank you to the many organic experts who provided valuable insight and information to the program: Mallory Kreiger, Dr. Joel Gruver, Doug Alert, Eric Madsen, Matt Leavitt and Dr. Kathleen Delate.
Cafe Doldici from Washington, Iowa prepared an outstanding local, organic meal for our guests which included organic ingredients from Blueberry Bottom, Levi Lyle, Jonai Miller, Lorraine's Garden and Golden Delight Bakery.
Growing Organic Expertise with DMACC at Aaron Lehman's Farm in Polk City on July 14, 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Aaron Lehman hosted DMACC students and others interested in learning more about the U.S. organic movement, the National Organic Program, Midwest organic production options and a range of resources that support organic transition and certification.
Aaron is President of the Iowa Farmers Union and a fifth-generation farmer where he and his family grow corn, soybeans, oats, and hay in both organic and conventional rotations. In the mid-2000s, he and his dad decided to try something different from the traditional two-crop system and began to explore certified organic production to diversify the land and improve sustainability, while increasing net revenue.
Growing Organic Expertise with NIACC at Ash Grove Farm in Hampton – June 27
Margaret and Doug provided participants an up-close look at their current crop rotations of hairy vetch, rye, corn and soybeans, a detailed explanation of the many machines used to manage planting, cultivating, weeds and pests, as well as insight into their motivations and experiences of operating a diverse organic farm.
For a lot of these students this is the first time they are hearing and learning about organic standards or organic production methods and the wide-ranging benefits of organic practices including high market premiums, improved farm assets and surrounding natural resources, and meeting consumer demand for local and organic products.
Thanks to Doug and Margaret for taking time to host this Growing Organic Expertise Field Day to highlight the opportunities, benefits, and value of implementing organic practices on the farm.
IOA Field Day: Organic Vegetable Production for Healthy Foods and Healthy Communities with Organic Greens – June 24
Last Friday’s breezy, cloud covered morning provided an ideal setting for IOA’s first field day of the season! James Nisly and Organic Greens staff were wonderful hosts and mentors, offering technical advice, first-hand experience, and in-field demonstrations and tours of the microgreen facility and farm. Organic Greens is a great example of a diverse organic operation focused not only on profits, but also enhancing the farm’s natural assets while meeting the needs of the local market and community (i.e. food, jobs, ecosystem).
Participants first toured the microgreen facility where they saw operation flow from production to packaging and then toured plots on the 13-acre farm and discussed plans and management of his crops, which includes cabbage, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash. James currently sells his greens and field crops to about 40 wholesale customers in eastern and central Iowa, including K12 schools, colleges and universities, natural food stores (Wheatsfield Coop, New Pi, Gateway Market), and traditional retailers such as Hy-Vee stores.
Thank you to our hosts, and to Maria, James’ mother-in-law, for procuring and preparing a delicious farm-to-table lunch, and to those who provided local and organic ingredients for the meal: Blueberry Bottom, Boyd’s Bologna, Organic Greens, and Radiance Dairy.
Webinar: FSA Farmer Loan Programs – Tues, May 24 @ 12 p.m.
The Iowa Organic Association is hosting Brian Gossling and Luke Hawkins from the Iowa Farm Service Agency (FSA) for a webinar about a few farmer loan programs offered by FSA. During this webinar you will learn further about the following programs: Farm Storage Facility Loans, Marketing Assistance Loans and Farm Operating Loans.
FSA offers beneficial repayment terms and interest rates, including rates as low as 1.5%. Iowa has the largest FSA loan portfolio in the nation with over $2.3 billion in loans and loan guarantees.
An Intro to Organics Field Day on Aaron Lehman’s Farm, Polk City – Tues, Mar 8; 3:30-5:30 p.m.
The Iowa Organic Association and Aaron Lehman, IFU President and Polk City organic farmer, are hosting an Organic Field Day for Drake University Environmental Regulation in Agriculture law students on Tuesday, March 8 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. This field day is open to public.
This Organic Field Day will provide college students, farmers and anyone interested, an opportunity to learn from industry experts about the U.S. organic movement, the National Organic Program, Iowa and Midwest organic production options and a range of resources and support for organic transition and certification. Aaron is a fifth-generation family farmer where he and his family grow corn, soybeans, oats, and hay in both organic and conventional rotations.
Rodale Institute Farming Systems Trials Research Overview with Dr. Yichao Rui
Dr. Rui is a Soil Scientist at Rodale Institute. He also serves as the Research Director of the 40 years’ old FST, the oldest field experiment comparing organic and conventional grain production systems in North America. In this webinar, Dr. Rui will provide an overview of 40 years’ research findings of the FST, with a focus on the impact of organic management on soil health, grain nutrient quality, and profitability of grain cropping systems.
Tending to the Microbial Life of your Soil with Chris Trump
Chris Trump is a world-renown Korean Natural Farming (KNF) educator, a practice using indigenous microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, nematodes and protozoa) to produce fertile soils that yield high output without the use of herbicides or pesticides resulting in improved soil health, loaminess, tilth and structure. Chris is a life-long farmer who brings science and research to farmers, giving them effective and efficient tools for decreasing disease and increasing income using indigenous micro-organisms.
Organic Grass Milk Dairy Farming with Joe Langmeier
Joe, Mike, Keith and Jim Langmeier own and operate Langmeier Dairy, Inc in Prairie Du Chen, Wisconsin. The Langmeier organic dairy and produce farm has been certified organic for 20 years. Joe will share about their family’s farming journey into organic and their success using dry cow and calf-raising with high-quality forages.
Annual Meeting Member Update - 2021 Progress & 2022 Goals
Roz Lehman, IOA executive director, presented accomplishments from 2021 and what’s on the horizon for 2022 during the 2021 Annual Meeting on December 9, 2021. She has reproduced this presentation to share an overview with our members and supporters about the programs IOA delivered over the past year (Growing Organic Expertise in Iowa, Field Days, Webinars, outreach, advocacy) and goals for the next year.
Economics of Soil Health Systems with Dr. Elizabeth Rieke
Dr. Elizabeth Rieke is a Soil Microbiome Scientist at the Soil Health Institute focusing on how soil health management practices affect soil microbial structure and function. Dr. Rieke will share methods to measure soil health, how to interpret that data and the economic benefits of adopting soil health management practices.
Weed Management in an Organic Operation with Matt Miller
Matt Miller is an organic farmer from Bristow, Iowa. Matt has been farming organically for over 20 years and grows corn, soybeans, and oats. The knowledge and experience to manage weeds in an organic system is an essential skill for an organic farmer. Matt will share his tools of the trade for controlling early season weeds with an overview of the Treffler harrow. Organic farming becomes much more enjoyable when weeds are managed in a timely, non-toxic and efficient manner.
Food as Medicine, A Systems Perspective with Dr. Andy Nish
Dr. Andy Nish is currently the Medical Director of John Stoddard Cancer Center and has dedicated his medical career to learning and teaching about how lifestyle changes can improve our health. Dr. Nish covered a wide range of topics about the impact of food production and consumption on human health, but also the impact of current agricultural practices on our food system and the environment. Dr Nish shared ideas for looking toward the future – to help improve the health of all living species on the planet.
IOA Annual Meeting - Dec 9, 2021
Thank you to everyone that attended our 2021 Annual Meeting. We are delighted you were able to be part of our evening.
Roz Lehman, executive director, presented IOA accomplishments from 2021 and what’s on the horizon for 2022. Dr. Joel Gruver discussed his organic research and 2021 Field Report, and an IOA Member-organic farmer panel shared the “Impact of organic on the farm and in the community.”
No Spray Field Signs for Sale
Make sure your neighbors and commercial applicators know your farm or land is a NO SPRAY ZONE!
The Iowa Organic Association will have these Organic Farm Do Not Spray signs available to pick up during this year’s winter conferences (Iowa Organic Conference-Nov, IOA Annual Meeting-Dec, Practical Farmers of Iowa-Jan, MOSES-Feb), or we can mail them to you if you can't make it to one of these events.
Plastic 10x14 = $15
Aluminum 10x14 = $25
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!!
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.
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