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Inside the National Organic Program: Organic Farmer Turned USDA National Organic Program Accreditation Manager Shares Why Organic

Posted by Dr. Jennifer Tucker, Deputy Administrator for the National Organic Program in Farming
Apr 22, 2021
An overhead drone shot of Yoxagoi Orchards

What does organic certification really mean for a farm? In Lars Crail’s experience as a central California organic pear farmer turned NOP Accreditation Division Audit Supervisor, going organic transformed his orchard and led to a new career helping others achieve organic success.

It was the buzzing in the orchard he noticed first—lady bugs, praying mantis, bees, and other creatures were visiting his family’s north coast California pear farm. After making the challenging but worthwhile transition to organic, his farm was thriving in harmony with the surrounding environment.

A self-proclaimed environmentalist, Lars committed to organic because it aligned with his beliefs. Under organic management, the farm thrived with robust yields, high demand, and reduced input costs (by 75 percent). Organic certification accomplished two of Lars’s major goals: the farm paid for itself and he manages and lives on a farm he is proud of. Moreover, the folks Lars met “wanted to know my story, not just my price. There was a lot of energy, a lot of young people—and I knew that’s where I wanted to be.”

After a decade and a half operating the orchard, Lars became an organic inspector with various certifying organizations. Through countless inspections, Lars saw the wide variety of organic management practices that conserve biodiversity and helped farms pivot and achieve enduring success.

Lars (left) on review audit of a farm in Austria

At NOP, Lars ensures USDA’s 77 accredited certifiers consistently and fairly enforce organic standards across 45,000 organic operations worldwide.

Despite the transition from orchard to office, he still loves traveling, exploring organic farms, and hearing organic farmers share their success stories. Most importantly, he finds satisfaction in knowing that other farmers, inspectors, and certifiers are just as committed to USDA organic as he and his NOP colleagues are.

Lars (center) conducting a witness audit with a quinoa producer and inspector in Bolivia
Category/Topic: Farming