Organic Food Production and Marketing – Educational Resource Development
1. Improve the quality of information about organic agriculture provided to the public by Cooperative Extension Service and NRCS personnel.
2. Publish a revised Organic Resource Manual which includes updated information from the USDA National Organic Program and distribute to Cooperative Extension and NRCS offices in Idaho, Montana, Utah, Oregon, and Washington.
3. Develop a Washington State Department of Agriculture Organic Food Program Web site with electronic educational resource files.
4. Develop educational presentation materials (e.g. PowerPoint, slides) and provide organic production, marketing, and certification seminars to Cooperative Extension, NRCS, and state departments of agriculture personnel in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
5. Collaborate with Washington State University (WSU) Cooperative Extension to provide organic production and marketing workshops geared to specific production systems (e.g. tree fruit, row crop, etc.)
The first Organic Resource Manual was published in December 1999. The second edition is intended to be a supplemental to the first. This supplemental will contain information on the National Organic Standards and organic tree fruit production. As of January 2000, the USDA National Organic Standards Board has stated that the next proposed rule will be published in February 2000. The section on organic tree fruit production has been coordinated with David Granatstein, Washington State University.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture Organic Food Program has posted its Web site at:
The site contains information on the Organic Food Program; Washington state standards for organic food production, processing ,and handling; organic and transition-to-organic certification procedures, applications, and forms; and lists of approved materials for use in organic production. The Materials Approved for Organic Food Production lists have been the most useful components thus far. The Organic Food Program has received great feedback from other states which are accessing the materials list on the Web site and utilizing it for their own programming. The Organic Resource Manual will also be posted to this site in a format which will allow the user to download the entire document.
Outlines have been developed for PowerPoint presentations to be made for Cooperative Extension, NRCS, and state departments of agriculture. These presentations thus far include information on the principles of organic agriculture, the standards for production, processing and handling of organic food in Washington state, acres in organic production, and marketing trends. The presentations will be developed to accommodate a range of audiences including: support agency personnel; farmers considering transitioning to organic production, and organic farmers who may wish to know more about the specific standards.
The Organic Food Program has received many requests for presentations from WSU and other educators. From these requests, we have come to understand the need for general information about organic production, as well as the nuts and bolts of becoming certified organic in Washington. We will be developing different presentations to meet these specifics needs.
Potential Benefits and Impacts on Agricultural Professionals
Each edition of the Organic Resource Manual will benefit agricultural support agency personnel by providing a reference resource for understanding the organic industry. Agency representative will be better equipped to serve growers in their area or district who need assistance in alternative agriculture. Through the electronic availability of the manual on the Organic Food Program Web site, the document will reach a much wider audience.
The Web site provides the organic industry with access to information on the regulation of organic food in Washington. This stimulates not only the organic industry in the state, but also serves other states in a variety of capacities. The Materials Approved for Organic Production list is the most notable component. The Web site allows organic farms to understand accessing Washington markets. The site also provides other states without organic certification programs a template or point of departure for developing a successful organic certification program. As the site expands to include electronic production information and links to useful sites for the organic industry, the quality of this service will only increase. The Web site also makes office staff time in the Organic Food Program more efficient by reducing the amount of phone requests for information.
Presentations about the Organic Food Program and organic production will provide direct information for a variety of farmers, students, and support agency personnel. Formatting and delivering information in this way can be highly effective in reaching a large number of people; allowing for an exchange of questions and answers which will deepen the participants understanding of the organic industry. Through collaboration with Washington State University specialists and other professionals in the field of organic production, workshops on specific organic production techniques will broaden this exchange a step further.
This summary was prepared by the project coordinator for the 2000 reporting cycle.