2017 Annual Report

Thanks to all of our members, sponsors, donors, and supporters who helped make 2017 a huge success. We've summarized our program accomplishments in this Annual Report. Last year we continued to advocate for the needs of organic farmers in Iowa. We connected family farmers to educational events and resources about organic transition. And we expanded a supportive organic community through friendship, networking, and shared knowledge. Learn more about our year by reading on!

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Call Senators Grassley & Ernst to Stop Organic Import Fraud

Iowa Organic Association and Organic Farmers Association (OFA) are working together to promote more organic support in the 2018 farm bill and we need your help.  

Fraudulent organic grain imports have been flooding the US market, reducing the price of grain for Iowa farmers.  Senator Grassley and Senator Ernst's office are potential candidates to Co-Sponsor the companion bill to the House’s Organic Consumer Protection Act in the Senate, which would put in measures to increase enforcement and level the playing field for Iowa farmers.  WE NEED YOUR HELP TODAY!

The House Organic Consumer Protection Act (H.R.3871) has 35 co-sponsors and includes a number of measures to stop the import of fraudulent organic grain. Senator Baldwin (D-WI) is working on a bi-partisan Senate companion bill and she needs a republican co-sponsor--we think Senator Grassley and Ernst are a great fit--especially if they sign on together.

Today, could you please call Senator Grassley and Senator Ernst's offices and ask that they Co-Sponsor the senate Organic Research Act with Senator Baldwin?
Call:  Senator Grassley's office and ask to speak with Andrew Brandt (Agricultural Legislative Aide): (202)224-3744
Call:  Senator Ernst's office and ask to speak with Michael Doelch (Agricultural Legislative Aide):  (202)224-3254
1.     Introduce yourself, where you are from, a little bit about your farm, and how fraudulent organic imports impact you.  

2.     Talk about your concern about fraudulent organic grain affecting Iowa farmers' ability to compete on level-playing field.  This is an integrity issue where we need Iowa Senator support to put America First.  (see talking points below if you want more info)

3.      Ask that Senator Grassley & Ernst work with Senator Baldwin (D-WI) to introduce and co-sponsor the Senate companion bill to Organic Consumer Protection Act (H.R.3871).   This is a bill that will affect thousands of Midwest farmers and it will be a strong statement of support for American farmers coming from Midwest Senators. 

U.S. organic production lags far behind U.S. organic demand.  Currently we import 70% of the organic soybeans and 40% of the organic corn used here in the US.   If anyone can close this market gap on corn and soybeans, its Iowa farmers.  However, we cannot increase Iowa organic production without assurances that our competition is being held to the same standards as US organic farmers.   

Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing Inc. (OFARM) represents the interests of five organic marketing cooperatives, including grain producers in Iowa and has been working diligently on the organic import fraud issue. OFARM thinks 60 to 70% of organic imports may be fraudulent. Some come through Turkey, where fraud is rampant, and some from India, where standards are not checked thoroughly for sanitation issues. OFARM suspects Turkish organized crime is involved, with colleagues in Russia and Ukraine.

Currently, the U.S. produces only about 60% of the required organic corn and 10-30% of the organic soybeans the market requires.  Yet the organic trends show the demand increasing at about 14% a year.  This seems like a great opportunity for Iowa farmers (especially beginning farmers) as organic commodity prices are typically 2-3 times greater than conventional prices; however, for over two years organic grain producers have seen their prices, market opportunities and bottom-lines on their farms decline due to fraudulent imports.  This HURTS IOWA FARMERS.

The financial losses to the twelve Midwestern state organic grain producers (ND, SD, NE, KS, MO, IL, IA, WI, IN, MI, MN, OH) totals over $150 million in lost income for the crop years 2015 and 2016.  The income loss of all 48 continental states and 2017 income losses is over $250 million, due to an influx of fraudulent "organic" grain.  This situation is unsustainable and directly hurts Iowa farmers who want to contribute to the US domestic supply of organic grain.

As documented by the Washington Post investigative reporter, Peter Whoriskey, (May 12, 2017) “The label said ‘organic’ but these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren’t” the profits on one shipload of imported fraudulent grain was over $4 million.

The USDA must STOP organic fraud and this bill will provide the National Organic Program with the tools and resources to do so.  The Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act includes new Farm Bill requirements for USDA, in coordination with Customs and Border Protection, to implement enhanced procedures to track organic imports and ensure that imported products fully comply with U.S. organic standards.  

Conventional and organic farmers are watching the organic market and ready to transition acres, but they need assurance from Congress that if they transition, the crops will be competing in a fair marketplace, where America is First.   Iowa Senators must stand up to fraudulent imports and protect Iowa farmers.
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IOA Hires New Executive Director

February 7, 2018

Ames, Iowa.  The Iowa Organic Association’s (IOA) Board of Directors recently hired a new Executive Director to help lead the organization to advocate for policies and support for organic food production and to expand opportunities and resources for organic farmers in Iowa. 

Rosalyn (Roz) Lehman will begin as the new Executive Director for the Iowa Organic Association this week.  Roz comes to IOA with a wealth of experience managing small non-profit, advocacy and education organizations.  Most recently, she served as the founding Executive Director for Iowa Rivers Revival (IRR) from 2007-2016, and she was part of the team that passed the “Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy” ballot measure in 2010.  In her role at IRR, she helped develop advocacy and education programs, cultivate a statewide network of river leaders and supporters, and advance local and state efforts to restore, enhance and protect Iowa’s rivers and streams.  Roz has a background in community and policy organizing, and graduated from Drake University with a BA in sociology. IOA President, Scott Ausborn, commented, “the Board and I felt strongly that Roz’s experience and passion for sustainable land management and organic food was the perfect fit for IOA’s future.”  

Former Director, Kate Mendenhall, will continue to remain active as a member of IOA and will serve as a management consultant during the executive transition.  She said, “I am thrilled Roz will be joining the Iowa Organic Association team --- she’ll be leading IOA at an important time for Iowa organic growers and she is perfect for the job!”

Roz is based in Des Moines and will look forward to meeting Iowa’s organic farmers over the coming months.  Look for her at the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) Conference later this month. 

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The Iowa Organic Conference

In late November the Iowa Organic Association participated in the Iowa Organic Conference. The Iowa Organic Conference is an annual gathering hosted by Iowa State University’s Organic Program, led by Iowa Organic Association co-founder, Dr. Kathleen Delate, Professor of Horticulture and extension organic specialist at Iowa State University. The event kicked off on Sunday November 19, 2017 with a social hour and continued throughout the following day, November 20 with a full day of workshops and networking.

Hundreds of folks gathered on Monday morning for breakfast and a keynote speech by Jeff Moyer, the executive director of the Rodale Institute. Jeff is “a world-renowned authority on organic agriculture. His expertise includes organic crop production systems with a focus on weed management, cover crops, crop rotations, equipment modification and use, and facilities design. Jeff is perhaps most well-known for conceptualizing and popularizing the No Till Roller Crimper for use in organic agriculture. In 2011, he wrote Organic No-Till Farming, a publication that has become a resource for farmers throughout the world.” Jeff’s talk, “Seventy Years of Inspiring Organic Producers and Consumers,” walked through some of Rodale’s new projects, including the proposed certified regenerative organic agriculture label and their new initiative sponsoring the Organic Farmers Association. The Iowa Organic Association is a proud member of the Organic Farmers Association, a new national voice for organic farmers.

The conference featured fourteen workshops and a packed lineup of presenters who focused on topics from organic transition to local food systems marketing. IOA staff and board members attended an early presentation called “Water Quality in Iowa: Where Do We Go from Here?” Bill Stowe, Cynthia Cambardella, and Tom Frantzen all spoke about their roles in protecting Iowa’s waterways. This presentation was widely attended and prompted a lot of discussion afterwards about the role organic farming can play in improving water quality. The discussion, which included researchers and farmers, was an inclusive, holistic, interdisciplinary dialogue. Other topics included “Organic Chickens from A to Z” with Eldon Miller and Doug Darrow, “Small Grains: New Varieties and New Uses” by Erin Silva, John Wepking, and Tom Frantzen, and “Getting the Most out of Your High Tunnel” with Ajay Nair of Iowa State University.

Between sessions, attendees took time to visit with service providers in the event hall. Around forty different vendors were set up at the event. From organic seed companies, organic certification agency, organic feed suppliers, to extension agents serving organic farmers, the hall was filled with knowledgeable organic professionals providing a great opportunity for organic farmers and conventional farmers considering transition to find the resources needed to succeed in the organic market. The Iowa Organic Association used our time at the booth to talk with farmers about our upcoming education and outreach events—events that will help farmers to consider an organic transition and organic farmers to perfect their farm practices to become more successful in their work.

We’ll see you next year at the Iowa Organic Conference!

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IOA Submits Comments on NOP Livestock and Poultry Standards

The Iowa Organic Association has submitted comments to the NOP Livestock and Poultry Standards.  Read them here

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Proposed new Livestock and Poultry Organic Standards

The USDA National Organic Program recently announced a new proposed Rule on Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices. The proposed rule would clarify existing USDA organic regulations related to livestock and poultry production requirements, thereby ensuring consistency among organic producers and protecting the integrity of the USDA organic seal. 

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Action Alert-DRIFT


February 15, 2016

Last week Iowa State Senator Dick Dearden introduced a bill (SSB 3125) that will improve pesticide spray drift testing for farmers across Iowa. It's time to contact your Senator and tell them you want a more efficient pesticide spray drift testing protocol.


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Iowa Organic Conference--Transition to Organic Mentoring

AMES, Iowa—The 15th annual Iowa Organic Conference will give farmers who are interested in transitioning to an organic operation the opportunity to meet individually with experts in the field. The conference will be held Nov. 22-23 at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, as a joint effort between Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the UI Office of Sustainability.

Farmers will have the chance to participate in farmer-to-mentor round tables with organic producers and those experienced with organic certification. In addition, event speakers will provide advice on organic grain crops, vegetable production, fruit cultivation and certification how-to tips.

“The U.S. market for organic products reached $39.1 billion in 2014 and the demand for organic grains and produce continues to exceed supply,” said Kathleen Delate, ISU Extension and Outreach organic agriculture specialist and professor in horticulture and agronomy. “Growers everywhere are encouraged to consider the potential for organic production.”

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2015 Organic Cost Share-IOWA

Submit Organic Cost-Share Materials by November 6, 2015!   

Reimbursable certification costs must have been paid by September 30, 2015!

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Organic Greenhouse Webinar

Organic Greenhouse Certification Webinar, August 6, 3-5pm CTgreenhouse.jpg

Iowa Organic Farmers invited to join CCOF's webinar on organic certification for greenhouses.

As urban farms continue to blossom, specialty greenhouses sprout up around the country, and mixed fruit and vegetable operations continue to produce their own transplants, CCOF has received more inquiries about the intricacies of organic certification for greenhouses. This webinar will cover what is necessary to certify your greenhouse.  The information shared is applicable for certification with any organic certification agency. 

Greenhouse production offers many advantages for organic growers. In addition to being used in specialty crop and custom transplant production, greenhouses offer opportunities for urban farmers or producers who wish to get a speedy start into organic production. They also serve as an integral part of many vegetable operations who produce their own transplants. 

Registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/organic-greenhouse-certification-webinar-tickets-17506506432

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