Since October 2019, the Iowa Organic Association has delivered a series of in-person and virtual “Growing Organic Expertise in Iowa” workshops to provide information, tools and resources to increase awareness and knowledge about the National Organic Program, organic certification and transition, organic standards and production practices and insight into current organic market trends and demands among agriculture service providers, consultants and farmers in Iowa.

The target audience for these workshops included: 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.

If you are interested in learning more about transitioning to organic or are seeking organic resources, please reach out to IOA at i[email protected] and we can help you in your organic pursuit.


The following series of "Growing Organic Expertise in Iowa" webinars are a modification of the in-person, full-day workshops offered pre-COVID-19.  These webinars present a comprehensive overview of the principles and processes for organic transition and certification; a greater awareness about the issues and opportunities related to transitioning and organic production; and additional tools and resources to assist and guide farmers in transitioning and managing an organic farm. Each webinar offers different presenters that provide a range of organic insight and experience about the following topics:

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

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Organic Producer Panel:
Scott Ausborn, Ida Grove, Iowa
Paul Mugge, Sutherland, Iowa

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

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Organic Producer Panel:
Bryce Irlbeck, 
Manning, Iowa
Kyle Schnell, Newton, Iowa

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

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Organic Producer Panel:
Wayne Wangsness, Decorah, Iowa
Scott Wedemeier, Maynard, Iowa

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

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Organic Producer Panel: 
Kim Andersen and Nelson Smith
from Brighton, Iowa


The Iowa Organic Association, with funding from the North Central SARE program, developed the Growing Organic Expertise in Iowa – Organic Inspection video series to provide examples about the different aspects of the organic inspection process.  Organic inspections play a vital role in ensuring organic integrity and consumer trust in the USDA Organic seal.

This episode of “Before and After the Inspection” demonstrates how to prepare for the inspection and what to expect after the inspection is complete.  The purpose of the onsite inspection is to: Assess whether the operation complies with the NOP regulations; verify that the Organic Systems Plan accurately reflects the operation’s actual activities; and ensure that prohibited substances have not been applied. The inspector will view all business documents, production areas and equipment used for the organic operation. 

Before and After the Inspection

This episode of “Organic Recordkeeping” demonstrates the National Organic Program’s requirements for evaluating the organic operation’s recordkeeping systems and verifying actual practices to those outlined in the Organic Systems Plan. Some examples of the types of records that need to be available for review at inspections include audit-trail documents such as seed, fertilizer, and soil amendment documents; feed receipts, shipping records, sales invoices; and soil-, tissue-, or water-test results, if applicable. 


This episode of “Buildings and Machinery Operations Tour” demonstrates the National Organic Program’s requirements that all buildings, equipment and machinery used in the organic operation also be inspected and reveal no commingling with prohibited or non-organic crops or products.

Operations Tour

This episode of “Organic Crops Management” demonstrates the National Organic Program’s requirements for reviewing EACH production unit, facility and site where an operation produces or handles organic products to evaluate soil and nutrient management, adjoining land use, buffer zones, land use history, production capacity of the land, seeds and planting stock used, crop rotation practices, pest control practices, harvest, labeling, and shipping.

Crops Management

This episode of “Organic Livestock Management” demonstrates the National Organic Program’s requirements for reviewing EACH production unit, facility and site where an operation produces or handles organic livestock to evaluate soil and nutrient management, adjoining land use, buffers, land history, seeds and planting stock used, health care practices, origin of livestock, livestock living conditions, access to the outdoors, temporary confinement, feed and feed rations, and pasture management practices.

Livestock Management

This episode of “Buffer Area Management” demonstrates the National Organic Program’s requirements for buffers where there is risk of contamination, via drift or flow, of prohibited substances under organic regulations. Buffer zones between organic and non-organic crops must be of sufficient size and structure, typically a buffer zone is 30- to 40-feet wide. Buffer zones provide an opportunity to grow non-organic crops, implement conservation practices by creating habitat for beneficial organisms (birds, pollinators, predators of crop pests), provide a barrier against weed seed migration or wind damage, and protect water quality.

Buffer Area Management

INSPECTION VIDEO SERIES PARTICIPANTS                                     Farmer and Inspector Background Video

Jude Becker

is an organic pork producer at Becker Lane Organic,
on his 6th generation family farm near Dyersville, IA, that has been in organic production of crops and hogs since 1999. Jude has traveled to Europe extensively, beginning in 2003 with a visit to Denmark sponsored by the Pork Niche
Market Working Group. Jude is currently developing a value-added organic pork products that offer further opportunities to retain product value and boost farm income by going even further up the retail supply stream.

Jack Knight
is an organic inspector from
Luana, Iowa.  Jack grew up in Postville working with his father
in the farm co-op and farming community. After a career in many aspects of farming, horticulture, and forestry, Jack became an NOP inspector in 1999 in the upper Midwest. He sits on six county and regional boards and three non-profit boards, including work as a soil and water commissioner in Allamakee County and Vice Chair of the Iowa Organic Association.

Denise O'Brien
is an organic farmer at
Rolling Acres in Atlantic, Iowa. Denise and her husband, Larry, 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, former agriculture adviser in Afghanistan, founder of the Women, Food and Agriculture Network and 2021 recipient of the Rodale Institute's Organic Farmer of the Year award.

David O'Shields -- Producer and Camera Operator
is the Filmmaker-in-Residence and Adjunct Instructor at University of Northern Iowa. David has been a working member of the production community since 1985. David founded New Light Media in 1995 to pursue his dream of making important  documentaries about the natural environment, democracy, race and American History.

Prushia Golden -- Producer and Camera Operator
Tristan Bennett -- Editor

IOA’s “Growing Organic Expertise in Iowa” workshop training and video series is made possible with grant support from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE), under award number 2018-38640-28416 through the North Central Region SARE program under project number ENC18-168. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.