IOA strives to offer information to our members and the general public on a variety of topics related to organic and sustainable agriculture.  If you have a resource to share, please contact us to make a suggestion.

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Table of Contents

Organic Certification

Organic certifying agencies in Iowa

MOSES Guidebook for Organic Certification

National Organic Program (Organic Regulations, NOSB, Certification, and more information)

National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances

Vegetable Farmers Guide to Organic Certification (National Young Farmers Coalition)

USDA NRCS Conservation Activity Plan 138 for Organic System Plans

Transition to Organic Agriculture

Making the Transition to Organic:  Ten Farm Profiles:  Written by the University of Minnesota, this publication highlights organic opportunities and offers strategies to address the unique challenges that transitioning producers face. It features livestock, crop, and vegetable producers who were in the process of transitioning or were recently certified organic between 2012 and 2015.

Organic Transition Course (Rodale) -FREE ONLINE COURSE:  Organic Transition Course is a 15-hour online program designed to help you understand the National Organic Standards and use them as your framework for making the transition to organic production.

Organic Transition Guide:  This guide, created by Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), will walk you step-by-step through the transition process. It explains the organic standards, methods organic farmers use to produce high quality organic food, and the certification process. 

Organic Transition Workbook:  This workbook, created by Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), uses a whole farm planning process to walk you through developing an organic management system, and ultimately an Organic System Plan that will prepare you to apply for certification. 

Organic Transition: A Business PlannerUse this Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) business planner to evaluate if organic certification makes good business sense for your farm or facility.

Organic Certification Made Simple: Bite by BiteFlorida Organic Growers and the National Organic Program have developed a 26 part video series providing a step-by-step overview of organic production requirements and the organic certification process.

Transition to Organic Fact SheetThis USDA fact sheet provides an overview of organic production requirements and the organic certification process.

Organic Certification Guidelines Q&AThis two page guide developed by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, answers frequently asked questions about the certification process.

GO Organic ChecklistCalifornia Certified Organic Farmers has developed a simple, ten step check list for transitioning to certified organic.

Dig Deeper: Transition to OrganicThe Rodale Institute describes considerations for transitioning farmers.

Organic and Federal FarmBill Programs

Organic Farmers' Guide to the Conservation Reserve Program Field Border Buffer Initiative:  NSAC’s guide includes eligibility and application information, program basics, detailed descriptions of key conservation practices and associated payments, as well as two producer profiles and resources for additional information.  The buffer initiative, which is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) as part of the Conservation Reserve Program’s (CRP) Continuous Sign-up (CCRP), aims to establish up to 20,000 acres of new conservation buffers. 

USDA NRCS Conservation Activity Plan 138 for Organic System Plans

NRCS Organic Farming Resources and HandbookThis USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) site includes links to factsheets, webinars, and other resources, including a handbook on NRCS resources for conservation planning on organic and transitioning farms.

EQIP Organic InitiativeThis USDA NRCS site includes information about the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative, which provides assistance to help organic producers plan and implement conservation practices.

Pesticide Drift

Sensitive Crops Directory:  A voluntary Iowa registry for organic, sensitive crop, and aviary sites.

IDALS Pesticide Bureau Pesticide Investigation and Enforcement:   Details how the Iowa Dept. of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) handle pesticide misuse.

Protect Your Right to Farm:  Pesticide Drift Response Guide for Iowa's Farmers and Rural Residents:  A brochure detailing what to do if you or your farm has been sprayed by pesticide drift in Iowa.

Private Labs for Pesticide Residue Testing:  Compiled by Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI), these private labs can often get farmers' their test results in a matter of weeks, compared to the 6-8 months it typically takes IDALS to return the testing information.

Summary of Public Record: IDALS Pesticide Bureau Case Files for Alleged Spray Drift to Organic, Fruits and Vegetables, and Horticulture. 2008-2012:  A Practical Farmers of Iowa report on Iowa Pesticide Drift Incidents.

Kids on the Frontline:  A report by the Pesticide Action Network that includes a rigorous assessment of dozens of independent studies documenting links between pesticide exposure and children’s health harms. The science linking agricultural pesticides to childhood health harms — particularly leukemia, brain tumors and developmental disorders — has grown increasingly strong. While children across the country are exposed in various ways, those living in rural, agricultural communities are on the frontlines of both pesticide exposure and the associated health risks.  This report highlights Iowa as one of the 4 states included in the report. 

Organic Marketing

USDA-AMS Organic Marketing Reports

2014 Certified Organic Production Survey:  Iowa

Organic Education- General

Iowa State University Organic Agriculture Program

Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)

Organic Livestock

University of Minnesota Organic Dairy Extension:  Lessons from experience at the University of Minnesota's West Central Research and Outreach Center.   Includes information on all aspects of organic dairy farming.

Organic Crops

Iowa State University Organic Program Research Results by Year:  Includes organic research results on the longterm organic vs conventions study, corn seed coating, compost, edamame, soybean diseases, soybean fertility, soybean staining, soybean varieties, sweet corn, open-pollinated corn, organic corn hybrid varieties, soil quality, cover crops, organic no-till, organic economics, wheat, flax, grapes, squash, green beans and peas, tomatoes, tillage, soil amendments, apples, broccoli, fruit, and more...

Federal Commodity Check-off Organic Exemption Forms 

All organic producers are now exempt from federal commodity checkoff programs.  You must apply for your exemption annually to each individual checkoff board.  The exemption forms for the various commodities can be found here:   For more information about the new 2016 regulation, read this document.

Avian Flu & Organic Production Resources

Biosecurity Guide for Poultry and Bird Owners (USDA APHIS)

Biosecurity for Birds: Avian Influenza (one-page poster in both English and Spanish)

Avian Influenza Findings Emphasize the Need for Good Biosecurity (USDA APHIS 2-pager)

Biosecurity in USDA Organic Poultry Operations (USDA AMS 2016)

IDALS Avian Influenza Updates (2015)

Beginning Farmers

      Beginner Farmer Resources

      Collection of Farm Safety Resources

Guide for Beginning Farmers (Greenhorns) is designed to help young people develop careers in agriculture. It highlights helpful readings and resources about land access, financing farm businesses, and building technical skills.

Starting or Diversifying an Agricultural Business (Penn State Extension) reviews all the steps of starting a business, from analyzing business opportunities to getting off the ground.

Getting Started (Cornell Univ. Northeast Beginning Farmers Project) This guide focuses on identifying your goals, skills, and resources to build an enterprise.

How to Begin Your Small Farm Dream (New Entry Sustainable Farming Project) This guide provides a clear overview of the benefits and challenges of owning a farm, as well as the resources to realize those benefits.

Start a Farm in the City Guide (ATTRA) A guide for starting an urban farm, touching on soil testing, finding markets, and resources specifically for urban farmers.

A Resource Guide for Beginning Farmers  (ISU) Geared for people interested in teaching a Beginning Farmer Training program. The curriculum in this manual is divided into three parts: production practices, post-harvest handling, and business planning/basic finances. Each module is organized by learning objectives and includes narrative, hands-on activities, and links to worksheets and additional resources.

Organic Gardening

The Complete Guide to Growing Your Own Organic Food

A Beginner's Guide to Seed Saving

Companion Planting Guide

Composting 101

Garden Design: The Easiest Garden Ever

Healthy Living

Consumer Guides:  Environmental Working Group:  The Environmental Working Group annually evaluates products for healthy living including pesticide residues on food, children's cereals, sunscreen, body products, household cleaning products, insect repellent, water filters, seafood, etc.

What’s On My Food? is a searchable database from the Pesticide Action Network designed to make the public problem of pesticide exposure visible and more understandable.  You can search any US produce and find out the probable pesticide residue and health affects.