Washington, D.C.—The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is expanding its support for a new “train-the-trainer” program, titled the Organic Agronomy Training Service (OATS) Project, which will help agricultural professionals working with organic and transitioning farms, according to a press release. OATS is supported by GRO Organic, the Organic Trade Association’s industry-invested organic research, promotion, and education program.

OATS has taken a couple steps forward: The OTA will become the fiscal sponsor of OATS, responsible for receiving and distributing contributions and funds received for the project; and Mallory Krieger, most recently farmer training program manager for The Land Connection, was named national program director of OATS.

Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of OTA, said in the release: “We need to help American farmers meet the growing demand for organic, and our GRO-supported OATS project is directly addressing this need. The vision of OATS is that every transitional and certified organic farmer has robust access to technical service expertise to provide unbiased, science-based agronomic support for their farming operation.”

Krieger said in the release: “There is a serious need for technical support for organic farmers and for the professionals working with organic farmers, especially those working with organic grain farmers. Farmers need to know how to integrate organic into their complex operations, and they need the one-on-one guidance that OATS is working to develop.”
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By the end of August, OATS will have hosted three successful pilot trainings across the Midwest focused on organic row crop production. The current emphasis of OATS is to “fill the void in technical assistance for organic grain growers in the Midwest.” For Phase 2, trainings will be held in the three original regions, with an expansion of two additional training sessions in two new regions, which have yet to be determined. Krieger notes that they will also develop an accurate way to measure the success of the trainings.