Educating Agricultural Professionals about USDA National Organic Program Requirements and Approved Materials for Certified Organic Crop Production
The USDA National Organic Program regulations were fully implemented on October 21, 2002. This has changed the regulatory environment for organic and transitional organic farmers and affected the ability of organic farming associations that are accredited certification agencies to provide consultation on approved practices. Extension personnel are in a key position to guide new and transitional farmers toward sustainable practices and avoid inadvertent use of materials or practices that could prevent certification for as long as three years.
This project is conceived in two interrelated phases. Phase I is the development of in-service training opportunities in the Northeast that are targeted specifically to the needs of the participants. Three regional one-day trainings are planned, with five additional presentations made at existing in-service programs to reach more participants. These sessions will provide agricultural professionals with the background, history, and most recent developments relating to structure and implementation of the new USDA National Organic Program and provide specific information regarding permitted methods and materials for crop, livestock and on farm value-added processing operations.
Phase II of the project will be aimed at the development of further training information on effective strategies and materials for pest control and fertilization of organic crops. Organic production systems strive to reduce the need for off-farm inputs by relying on multiple strategies for crop fertility needs such as crop rotations, cover crops, biodiversity in cropping systems, on-farm integration of livestock and use of animal manure, and on-farm compost production. This phase of the project will strive to identify the supplemental and interventional materials needed to complement a whole-farm management program.
- A total of 75 Cooperative Extension educators attend trainings and workshop presentations. Of these, 50 will increase their knowledge base of essential organic practices. Of those, 35 will report after two years of increased quality and quantity of contact with organic producers.
At least one and up to five extension educators in each state in the Northeast will be identified as a knowledgeable provider of organic information and devote a portion of education programming to organic information.
- A plenary presentation was given to approximately 100 participants at the September 27, 2002 Professional Development Conference in Kerhonkson, NY. This provided a brief introduction to many issues related to organic regulations and promoted future trainings available by the presenters, Eric Sideman and Emily Brown Rosen. A sign-up list netted 16 interested in further contacts. A summary was published in the proceedings for that event.
Planning has proceeded this fall and a contact list developed and contacted regarding planning for trainings. This list includes 33 individuals, including at least one from all 11 Northeast SARE region states.
Emily Brown Rosen attended a planning meeting for the Northeast Organic Network (NEON) on November 5 and 6, 2002, and met with researchers working on related projects to identify complementary areas that can be a basis for collaboration regarding efficacy review of materials used in pest intervention strategies.
Planning is underway for a one-day training to be held in southern New Jersey in mid-March. An initial notice to determine interest yielded over 20 responses, which was higher than anticipated. A second meeting is under consideration for the Geneva, New York region in late March.
Regional presentations are scheduled for in-service trainings on February 5 and 6, 2003 at a New England regional training in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where at least 50 agents are expected (Eric Sideman); and at one sponsored by Penn State Cooperative Extension on March 31 to April 1, 2003, with 40 to 50 agents expected (Emily Brown Rosen).
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
None available yet.