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Professional Training and Cooperation Sustain Organic Careers

Posted by Laura Gallagher, Program Analyst, USDA National Organic Program in Farming Organic
Aug 23, 2023
Organic farmer and inspector, Nate Powell-Palm, picks up and visually analyzes grain to describe organic field crop production and inspection in an Organic Integrity Learning Center online course

One week on the job can take organic inspectors from a field crop farm to a dairy pasture or food production facility. Inspectors audit organic farms, ranches, and businesses to verify that they follow the USDA organic standards. Travel and flexibility are inherent to inspection work, and many inspectors enjoy the opportunity to meet new people and learn about different types of agriculture and food production systems. This schedule, however, can also make it challenging for organic inspectors to connect with colleagues, attend training, or access professional resources.

As the program responsible for overseeing the USDA organic standards, the National Organic Program (NOP) helped address these challenges through its Human Capital Capacity Building Initiative. In 2022, NOP partnered with the Organic Agronomy Training Service to create an online course on Organic Field Crop Practices. The course, which is available in the Organic Integrity Learning Center, provides free, on-demand, video-based learning focused on agronomic practices and organic inspection at farms growing field crops like corn, wheat, or oats.

NOP also partnered with the Northwest Cooperative Development Center (NWCDC) and Organic Integrity Cooperative Guild (OICG) to create toolkits supporting the development of cooperative businesses for organic professionals. NWCDC and OICG explored how a cooperative business could provide benefits and networking opportunities to member organic inspectors, consultants, and other professionals. Cooperative businesses have a long history in U.S. agriculture, helping farmers and consumers collaborate to access goods and services.

Together, the new training and cooperative business resources will provide critical support for organic professionals who help maintain integrity in the thriving organic sector.

Learn more about the Human Capital Initiative partners and explore program resources in the USDA Organic Integrity Learning Center.

Category/Topic: Farming Organic