In 2021, NOP launched the Human Capital Capacity Building Initiative to support the long-term growth of the organic industry by expanding the pool of well qualified organic professionals who ensure consistency, fairness, and integrity. The initiative also supports racial equity by removing barriers to access and building inclusive programs. NOP funded nine projects and dozens of partner organizations through the initiative.
Partner organizations completed capacity-building projects to enable the growth of an organic certification workforce that meets the evolving needs of the organic sector. These projects resulted in training and educational programs, recruitment strategies, mentorship opportunities, inspector apprenticeships, and professional development resources.
Resources developed through the initiative are publicly available through NOP’s Organic Integrity Learning Center. Businesses, educational institutions, and organizations can use these resources to support organic professionals in their career journeys.
- Enroll in NOP-996 Growing the Organic Workforce to access all human capital initiative resources
- Need a Learning Center account? Access sign-up page
- Have a Learning Center account? Access site
Human Capital Capacity Building Projects and Partners
- Nourishing the Future Organic Inspector: A Mentorship Pilot and Southern States Recruitment and Training Program. Project lead: California Certified Organic Farmers Foundation with partners: Southeastern African American Farmers’ Organic Network, National Center for Appropriate Technology – Gulf States Region and Farmshare Austin.
- Deploying a Systems Framework for Classroom and Field-based Organic Agriculture Education. Project lead: Tuskegee University.
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Resources for Organic Professionals. Project Lead: Organic Farmers Association with partners: Cambium Collective, Accredited Certifiers Association, IFOAM North America, International Organic Inspectors Association and the National Organic Coalition.
- Providing High School and Postsecondary Students with Employment Opportunities in the Organic Industry: A Career Educational Technical Model for Organic Technicians/Inspectors. Project lead: Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers with partners: University of Florida and University of Hawaii.
- Bridging the Gaps: Enhancing Organic Programs in Postsecondary Education to Expand and Diversify the Certification Workforce Pipeline. Project lead: Oregon Tilth with partners: Oregon State University, Iowa State University, University of Wisconsin-Madison and the International Organic Inspectors Association.
- Developing Cooperative Support for Organic Professionals. Project lead: Northwest Cooperative Development Center with partners: Organic Integrity Cooperative Guild, U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, Aligned Law and the International Organic Inspectors Association.
- Building a Sustainable and Inclusive Apprenticeship Program for Organic Inspectors and Other Organic Professionals. Project lead: International Organic Inspectors Association with partners: University of Kentucky, Kentucky State University, Organic Association of Kentucky, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Organic Integrity Cooperative Guild, Elmwood Stock Farm and the Green Door Workshop.
- Improving Professional Outcomes for Organic Inspectors through Training in Organic Agronomy. Project leads: Organic Agronomy Training Service and the Organic Trade Association.
- Verifying the Promise of Certified Organic in the Northeast: Expanding Collaboration, Cooperation and Capacity-Building in the Northeast to Train, Inspect and Certify to the NOP. Project lead: Northeast Organic Farming Association with partners: Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; Delaware Valley University; Alfred State College; Rutgers University; Vermont Technical College; University of Connecticut; University of Maine; University of Massachusetts; University of New Hampshire; and Organic Independents.
Want to learn more about working in the organic sector?
Are you interested in becoming an organic inspector or part of an organic certification or oversight team? Organic operates as a public-private partnership, where organic inspectors and certification staff work for independent organizations around the world called certifiers. Those certifiers are overseen by the USDA.
NOP offers many training and development resources through our Organic Integrity Learning Center; these can help you learn about what organic means and the skills you may need to succeed in the field. To explore specific job opportunities in the organic oversight field, it is best to contact certification agencies directly. They are listed in the Organic Integrity Database’s Certifier Locator. Most have websites that may advertise job opportunities or may post jobs on social media sites or popular job boards. You can also contact businesses that work in the organic market to see what type of internal compliance and oversight roles may be available.
Jobs in the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the agency that the National Organic Program (NOP) is part of, are listed at: AMS Career Opportunities. You then apply through USAJobs, the Federal system for career job applications.
- Press Release: Organic Human Capital Capacity Building Projects Announced
- Video: Becoming an Organic Inspector
- Blog: Human Capital