Becoming an Organic Inspector

Application forms are available online below:

 Click here to print out the Inspector and Apprentice Inspector Application Form
 

Click here to print out the Supporting Member Application Form

How can I become an organic inspector?

Suggested steps:

1. Determine the need for inspectors in your geographic area by contacting certification groups in your local area and other
inspectors. Get an idea of which certification groups you would like to work with and learn their specific requirements for
inspectors.

2. Self-assessment. Evaluate your unique skills, abilities, and interests in relation to the requirements of inspectors. Inspection
usually involves travel and long work days while doing inspections interspersed with periods of intense report writing to meet
critical deadlines and periods of no inspection work. Clear writing skills and the ability to meet deadlines are essential. The
product by which an inspector is measured is, to a large degree, the report. Inspection work can be very difficult when cases of
fraud or negligence are uncovered. Do you have the integrity to do the job diligently? Are you familiar with organic standards
and principles? Do you have good oral and written communications skills? Are you committed to ongoing professional
upgrading as needed? If so, organic inspection may be an opportunity for you.

3. Attend an IOIA Training. While this training is not a guarantee of inspection work, IOIA trainings are endorsed by most
certifiers and usually recommended by them as the first step. IOIA trainings are usually offered in the late fall to early spring. The
costs for each course include tuition, course materials (including the IOIA Inspection Manual), meals, and lodging. Costs vary
but run approximately $500-600 US per 4 day course. IOIA Members receive membership discounts. Courses are rigorous
with long days and evening sessions. Events are usually scheduled in a semi-rural location and an attempt is made to provide as
much organic food as possible. Courses are presented by IOIA approved Training Coordinators with additional speakers.
Annually, IOIA offers the Andrew Rutherford Scholarship (deadline to apply is October 31) of tuition, meals, and lodging at an
IOIA training. The successful applicant must pay their own transportation costs.

4. Apprenticeship. IOA recently developed a comprehensive Apprenticeship program which pairs apprentices and mentors
for up to 2 years. Apprentices pay to apply for this program. Mentors evaluate the work of the apprentice and the IOIA
Training Manager monitors progress of both the apprentice and the mentor. Unfortunately, this program is not completely
implemented yet. Apprentice inspectors who are interested in an apprenticeship should contact experienced inspectors in their
area and ask to accompany them on one or more inspections as an observer. Then, the apprentice inspector completes an
inspection while observed by the veteran. The experienced inspector is responsible for the quality of the report, signs the final
draft, and is paid for the inspection. It is recommended to apprentice in each category (Crops, Livestock, and Processing)
before seeking work of that category.

5. Make yourself known to the organizations potentially requiring your services. One way to do so is to maintain IOIA
membership. Supporting Certification Agency members of IOIA receive the annual IOIA Membership Directory as a resource.

More information about IOIA training.

IOIA offers a 3 ½ day Basic Farm Inspector training, a 3 ½ day Basic Process Inspector training, a 1 day Basic Livestock
Training, and 2 day Advanced Inspector Trainings. Certificates of Completion are awarded to successful attendees. Persons
who fail the course and those who audit the courses receive Certificates of Attendance. Deadlines for application are
approximately 1 month prior to the course.

Farm courses include instruction on the certification process, organic standards, how to inspect organic farms, on-farm
processing, livestock inspection, audit trail (record keeping) requirements, regulations, risk assessment, investigative skills,
report writing, and ethics. Inspection field trips are taken in small groups and each attendee completes a written inspection
report. A satisfactory score on the written assignment a written test are required to earn a Certificate of Completion.

Process courses include instruction on how to conduct processing facility inspections, organic processing and handling
standards, organic quality management, HACCP, audit control, regulations, structural pest management, sanitation, report
writing, and inspector protocols. Inspection field trips are taken in small groups and each attendee completes a written
inspection assignment. A satisfactory score on the written assignment a written test are required to earn a Certificate of
Completion.

Livestock inspection is covered in the Farm course. The full 1 day Basic Livestock course is more comprehensive, including
presentations on livestock inspection guidelines, dairy, honey, poultry (meat, eggs) and slaughter animals. A field trip with
written assignment and test are included.

Advanced Inspector Trainings focus on specific topics. Attendees to Advanced courses must have completed a Basic
Course previously and have at least 2 years of inspection experience with 20 inspections or 1 year experience with at least 30
inspections. Criteria for receiving a Certification of Completion is attendance.

Acceptance to IOIA Courses is limited. Course Acceptance Criteria are:

BASIC ORGANIC FARM INSPECTOR TRAINING

1. Submission of complete application, resume and fees.

2. A minimum 1 year training and/or 1 year experience in organic agriculture, with knowledge of conventional agricultural
practices.

3. Fluency of the language in which the course is given.

4. Demonstration of good communication skills (written, verbal and listening).

5. Understanding and commitment to organic principles and certification process.

6. Demonstration of continuing education.

7. Appropriate physical and mental health.

BASIC ORGANIC PROCESS INSPECTOR TRAINING

1. Submission of complete application, resume and fees.

2. A minimum 1 year training and/or 1 year experience in food processing.

3. Knowledge of accounting and/or audit control procedures.

3. Fluency of the language in which the course is given.

4. Demonstration of good communication skills (written, verbal and listening).

5. Understanding and commitment to organic principles and certification process.

6. Demonstration of continuing education.

7. Appropriate physical and mental health.
 
 

ADVANCED ORGANIC INSPECTOR TRAINING

1. Same as above.

2. Advanced course attendees should have at least 2 years inspection experience and have conducted at least 20 inspections or
1 year inspection experience and have conducted at least 30 inspections.

3. Prior completion of 2 inspector training courses, or a letter of recommendation from an organic certification agency
demonstrating inspector competency.

EXCEPTIONS: Exceptions to the above admission standards may be made on a case by case basis. Persons seeking
exceptions should state in writing their qualifications and what contributions they would make to an advanced training course.

Exceptions are granted by the Regional Training Oversight Committee following set deadlines.

Application forms are available online below:

 Click here to print out the Inspector and Apprentice Inspector Application Form
 

Click here to print out the Supporting Member Application Form
 
 



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