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 Oct. 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 inter-related 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 regional 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 is aimed at the development of further training information on effective strategies and materials for pest and disease control 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.
1. A total of 75 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.
2. At least one and up to five Extension Educators in each state in the Northeast region will be identified as a knowledgeable provider of organic information and devote a portion of education programming to organic information.
1. The draft guide on efficacy of materials used for pest and disease control in organic agriculture, now titled “Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management” has been completed and is in production review and editing prior to final printing. This Guide includes approximately 160 pages of text, plus color plates of crop damage and pest identification. It will be made available in hard copy and also posted on a website sponsored by Cornell University. Publication is tentatively scheduled for February 2005. The Guide includes four sections: 1) an introductory section describing objectives and regulatory background issues, 2) a cultural practices section that discusses cultural practices and alternatives for management of pests in key vegetable crop families including crucifers, solanaceaous crops, cucurbits, lettuce, and sweet corn, 3) a section covering generic materials permitted in organic farming under the USDA National Organic Program (NOP), including botanical, microbial, mineral, and inorganic compounds. Included in this section of will be a synopsis of regulatory status, health and environmental effects, mode of action, guide for use, formulations available, and reported efficacy. This information was obtained from published, referred reports. The fourth section contains appendices that address useful cultural practices, such as trap cropping, induced resistance, encouraging beneficial habitats, as well as tips for small farm applicators and explanation of pesticide regulations.
2. The project timeline has been extended until March 31, 2005 to provide better timing for two full day training workshops for extension professionals. These are scheduled for Feb. 2, 2005, in Syracuse NY and Feb. 10, 2005, in Manchester NH. Approximately 65 individuals have registered to date.
3. An additional presentation on the Resource Guide was given in Asheville NC, Nov. 12, 2004 to approximately 35 farmers and agricultural professionals (funded by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association), demonstrating interest and usefulness of the Guide to other regions.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
195 agricultural professionals have attended trainings and workshop presentations.
A binder of information about organic regulations, practices, and resource information has been developed for training purposes. This will be updated for the 2005 trainings.
A power point presentation based on the Organic Resource Guide has been updated based on the final draft, and is available.