Our Mission: To address issues and concerns relevant to organic inspectors, to provide quality inspector training, and
to promote consistency and integrity in the organic certification process.

Everything You Need to Know About Advanced Organic Inspector Trainings
and IOIA's Annual General Membership Meeting

Chico Hot Springs, Pray, Montana - March 26 – 29, 2015

Advanced Training Info:   AGM Info:
Venue: Chico Hot Springs

Deadline to apply is February 20. After that date, a late fee of $50 applies. 
Deadline to apply for the AGM only is March 1.

Advanced Training: March 26 - 27

IOIA will sponsor advanced organic inspector training on March 26-27 in conjunction with the Annual General Membership Meeting on March 28, followed by options for field trips to organic operations on March 29. All events will be at the Chico Hot Springs Resort, near Pray, Montana.

Two advanced training options are offered on March 26. One option focuses on topics for the organic livestock inspector, including poultry and sheep. Speakers include Ib Hagsten, PhD Animal Nutrition and Joseph Ward, PhD Ruminant Nutrition. Ward has been active in organic animal production and organic animal feed manufacturing and processing since the early 90's.

Becky Weed, a Montana certified organic producer who developed an on-farm wool processing business and travels globally speaking on topics including predator-friendly wool, will speak on the challenges of organic sheep and wool production.  Weed is co-owner of Thirteen Mile Farm, a BOD member of the Wild Farm Alliance,  and holds an MS degree in Geological Science.

Other speakers include Georgana Webster, MT Dept of Ag Organic Certification Program Director, experienced livestock inspector, 4-H livestock leader for 17 years, 4-H judging coach for 6 years - Livestock Production Management, UC Davis Veterinary Teaching and Research Center Staff Research Associate, and B.S. Animal Science, will speak on using body condition scoring tools. Lisa Pierce, experienced inspector and IOIA trainer from British Columbia, will describe three types of assessment approaches to verify livestock production: animal based measures, input or resource based measures, and management based measures. She will draw from her background as an inspector, her work as the national facilitator of the Animal Care Assessment Program (ACAP) for the dairy industry in Canada, and her training by the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO). She will propose the use of animal based measures as an assessment tool in organic inspections (including citations from COR and NOP). Pierce grew up on a farm in central Alberta and has a B. Sc. in Environmental Science and diplomas in Integrated Pest Management and Adult Education.
The second option, Regional Independent Verifier On-Farm Food Safety training, will be offered the same day by co-trainers Karen Troxell and Jonda Crosby. Karen is a co-founder of The Organic Consulting Firm; she has worked in all fields of the organic industry and is trained in GAP, GMP and as an RIV trainer by PrimusLabs. Jonda Crosby, the Training Services Director of IOIA, is an organic inspector and a certified GAP Auditor for fruit and vegetable operations. The RIV On Farm Food Safety Training will include: audit training to assess on farm risks associated with food safety including; site selection, adjacent land use, fertilizer usage, water sourcing and usage, pest control and pesticide monitoring, harvesting practices (including worker hygiene, packaging storage, field sanitation and product transportation) and food defense using standardized audit tools and reporting procedures.
On March 27, a second day of advanced training will be offered. Dr. Jill Clapperton of Rhizoterra, Inc. www.rhizoterra.com, will be speaking on the topic of assessing soil health and management practices that can enhance soil health on organic farms. Clapperton has done soil research in both Canada and the US and currently works out of Washington State.
Monique Scholz of Québec will speak on how experienced processing inspectors approach formula verification in processing plants. She will also share her thoughts on how the Lac Mégantic train disaster has influenced – and will continue to influence - her organic inspections in the communities around the town and further afield. Scholz lives about 45 km (30 miles) from downtown Lac Mégantic.
Dr. Jean Richardson, of Vermont, organic inspector member and current chair of the National Organic Standards Board, will give the NOSB update. The National Organic Program has also been invited to provide the NOP update.
Lindsay Fernandez-Salvador, Technical Director at Organic Materials Review Institute, will speak on the topics of inputs assessment, how materials are OMRI listed, and specifically to address the large number of input materials for Sunset Review. Fernandez-Salvador has developed with IOIA a series of six different webinars on inputs assessment – all three scopes to both the NOP and COR standards.
Patti Bursten Deutsch will report on the results of her independent survey of all NOP accredited certifiers as to the meaning of the various dates that appear on certificates.
Other developing topic is a session where everyone will be invited to share a technology tip that helps them in their work as inspectors.
Basic training courses and minimum inspection experience are required to receive a Certificate of Completion for IOIA Advanced Training. Auditors are welcome if space is available and will receive Certificate of Completion for Organic Inspection Workshop. On Farm Food Safety Training will require pre-course and final exam for RIV certification. Participants may register for one or both days of training.

IOIA 2015 Annual General Membership Meeting

Click Here To Register

The AGM on March 28 will begin at 10 a.m. and includes an introduction to the developing IOIA Peer Evaluation Program (Co-chairs Al Johnson & Lois Christie) and an update on the new inspector accreditation program which was developed in response to input from trainers and from the membership at the 2014 AGM. Also, tentatively, the research team (Alison R. Kent, MPA candidate; David P. Carter, PhD candidate; and Sara Miller Chonaiew, PhD student) have been invited to report on “Inspectors in the U.S. Organic Food Industry: Characteristics, Roles, and Experiences” published Nov 2014 (confirmation pending). The day will end with festive events including an introduction to Korean food, a cash bar, a FUNdraising auction, and fiddle music. Wes Henthorne of the B Bar Ranch will speak on how the ranch saved the Ancient White Park heirloom cattle breed http://whiteparkbeef.com. IOIA activities will wind down about 9 p.m. but the live music begins in the Chico saloon at 9:30 p.m. so anyone who wants will find plenty to do.

FUNdraising Auction! After the AGM on March 28. Our favorite auctioneer, Brian Magaro from Pennsylvania, aka organic inspector will auction off a wide array of items contributed by members and friends of IOIA. If you have an item to donate, please email Joe Whalen, IOIA Admin, at ioia@ioia.net and let him know what you are bringing/sending and the approximate $$ value (internal use only!). IOIA is happy to receive items that are shipped to the IOIA office to arrive by March 24. Popular items include regional and organic foods and beverages, hand crafted items, useful gadgets for organic inspectors, and items unique to your region.

If sending by UPS, FedEx – use 117 N. Park Ave, Broadus, MT 59317 as the delivery address.
If sending by postal service – use P.O. Box 6, Broadus, MT 59317 USA as the delivery address.

Field Trip options on March 29 to Belgrade, about one hour away:

Welcome to Chico Hot Springs Resort in “Big Sky Country”!

chico 2Chico Hot Springs Resort, our venue, located in Pray, Montana, is a cozy and historic hot springs resort in a rural setting located in the beautiful Paradise Valley just north of Yellowstone National Park. YNP is widely held to be the first national park in the world, and the area abounds in western and natural history. The valley is famous both for the beauty of the snowcapped mountains and for geothermal activity which is associated with the Yellowstone region.  All pools are outdoors. Natural hot springs water averages 103°F (39.4°C) in the small pool and 96°F (35.5°C) in the large pool. No chlorine is added.  Winter visitors often enjoy the novelty of soaking in the pools while the snow is falling.

chico 4The Annual General Membership Meeting will be March 28. Advanced training is scheduled March 26-27.  The reserved room block includes a few days after the AGM to allow members to enjoy the surrounding area or just relax and enjoy the waters.  The modern but rustic Conference Center will be entirely available to IOIA and includes a cash bar for the AGM.

Food and beverage offerings include the western-style Chico Saloon with live music on Friday and Saturday; The Diningchico 5 Room at Chico, long noted as one of the region’s best restaurants; and the Poolside Grill for lunch and dinner (more affordable offerings).


A variety of lodging options include old-fashioned historic rooms in the main lodge with antique furnishings and bathrooms down the hall for around $80/night to similar rooms with a private bath for about $100/night to fully modern rooms for up to $134/night.
If you desire a private room, please book directly by calling (406) 333-4933. Our group ID is IOIA. chico 1Transportation
Shuttle service is available from the Bozeman airport, https://www.karststage.com. Call 800-287-4759 (toll free) or 406-556-3540.  Cost is $60 round trip (2 person minimum). Rental cars are also available. If you are traveling to Billings, we strongly encourage you to consider renting a car. IOIA will assist group carpooling efforts.

Recreational Opportunities

Horseback Rides or Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing in Yellowstone National Park – Rockin’ HK Outfitters www.rockinhk.com or call 406-333-4933 Advance reservations REQUIRED (can be made on-site). Horseback rides are $45/hour or $65/2 hours. Horse-drawn carriage rides (about 6 people maximum) or wagon rides (up to 15 people) are available for $45/person/hour. No minimum number for horse activities. Full-day trips into Yellowstone National Park are available, complete with snowshoes or skis and lunch for $395 for 1 or 2 people plus $150 for each additional person.   Dogsledding – Absaroka Dogsled Treks, www.absarokadogsledtreks.com 406-223-6440 Advance reservations REQUIRED. Note that snow is not guaranteed at the end of March.

chico 6This is the first annual meeting ever to occur in Montana.
Although it was a close race between New Orleans and Chico Hot Springs, Chico won out both with the email general membership survey and the BOD. The BOD recommended the venue to the 2014 meeting in Costa Rica, and the AGM validated the choice. One factor in the decision was that potentially every staff member of IOIA could attend. Chico is always close to the Canadian prairies, where no IOIA AGM has yet occurred. In prairie terms, the venue is reasonable driving distance from Calgary, Regina, or Saskatoon.  

The venue is about 300 miles from the IOIA office. Montana is a big place! – the 4th largest state in the USA.

How to get there:

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport
850 Gallatin Field Road,
Belgrade, MT 59714:
Get on I-90 E in Bozeman from I-90 Frontage W 14 min (9.2 mi).
Follow I-90 E and US-89 S to Mill Creek Rd in Pray 38 min (41.5 mi).
Take E River Rd to Chico Rd
10 min (7.2 mi).
Chico Hot Springs Resort & Day Spa
163 Chico Road, Pray, MT 59065
Billings Logan International Airport
1901 Terminal Circle, Billings, MT 59105:
Get on I-90 W from MT-3, Montana Ave and I-90BUS W 12 min (6.2 mi).
Follow I-90 W to US-89 S in Livingston. Take exit 333 from I-90 W
1 h 34 min (112 mi).
Continue on US-89 S. Drive to Chico Rd
27 min (23.2 mi).
Chico Hot Springs Resort & Day Spa
163 Chico Road, Pray, MT 59065

“Welcome to Chico Hot Springs, where old meets new and friendly Western hospitality has been a tradition since 1900." For more about the venue - www.chicohotsprings.com  For more information about Yellowstone Park www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm  

Note: Most Yellowstone Park roads are CLOSED to auto travel between early November and late April. The road from the North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana, through the park to Cooke City, Montana, via Tower Junction is open all year to auto travel. Abundant wildlife (elk, bison, pronghorn antelope, and sometimes wolves) can be seen on these roads, as well as the impressive Mammoth Hot Springs site at the north entrance. The cost to access the park is $25 per car for a 7-day pass.