The New Organic Answer Team
Individuals with hands-on experience in the movement, the rules and their farms join forces to interpret the meaning of USDA certified organic

U.S. farms and markets are in a steep learning curve triggered by the U.S. Department’s of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) National Organic Program (NOP) back in October 2002. Leaders in the organic community are working hard to understand the meaning and the intent of the rules as they seek the best possible future for organic farmers.

To help explain the unfolding impact of these rules, asked Jim Riddle to assemble a team of organic specialists from many fields. They are closely associated with the rationale BEHIND the rules. Having worked in the certification sector, and having attended numerous NOSB meetings, answer team members are in an excellent position to suggest knowledgeable solutions.

Active members of the initial answer team come from California, Oregon, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and New Jersey. We have experts in materials review; inspection; certification; and, most importantly, organic production. Rather than relying on the word of one individual, having a team of persons from different regions and with different areas of expertise provides for broadminded, thoughtful responses to your questions.

The team includes:

Jim Riddle, Answer Team Chair

Doug Crabtree,

Lynn S. Coody,

Emily Brown Rosen,
New Jersey

Zea Sonnabend,

Rick Martinez,

Jim Riddle, Chair. During the past 22 years, Riddle has been an organic farmer, gardener, inspector, educator, policy analyst, author, and consumer. He was founding chair of the Independent Organic Inspectors Association, (IOIA), and co-author of the IFOAM/IOIA International Organic Inspection Manual. (IFOAM is the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.) He has helped train hundreds of organic inspectors throughout the world, and is a frequent speaker at organic farming conferences.

Riddle chairs the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Organic Advisory Task Force, and was instrumental in passage of Minnesota’s landmark organic certification cost-share program. He serves on the National Organic Standards Board, which advises the USDA on organic agriculture policies and regulations.

Doug Crabtree currently serves as organic certification program manager for the Montana Department of Agriculture. His affiliations include IOIA, the National Association of State Organic Programs (NASOP), the Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO) and the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society (NPSAS).

Since joining the department in 2001, Crabtreehas worked to develop and implement the certification program. He previously worked as an organic inspector, educator, researcher, farm manager, and farmer. Crabtree is a strong advocate for organic agriculture, which he sees as a viable social, economic and environmentally responsible system for producers and consumers.

Lynn S. Coody has been an active participant in the organic industry since 1978, serving in many leadership positions in her home state of Oregon, nationally with the OTA and internationally with IFOAM.

In 1982, Lynn established Organic Agsystems Consulting, a firm that provides technical assistance to producers and regulatory agencies associated with the organic food industry. In recent years her consulting projects have focused on assisting domestic and international certifiers with writing certification manuals, developing quality systems for efficient management of the certification process, and complying with the accreditation requirements of the USDA’s National Organic Program and ISO Guide 65.

Emily Brown Rosen has been the Policy Director for the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) since 1999. OMRI is a nonprofit orginazation whose primary mission is to review products and publish the OMRI Brand Name List (available at as well as the OMRI Generic List to inform producers and certifiers which products and processes are compatible with organic systems, and compliant with NOP rules.

Rosen helps develop policy regarding materials review, provides information to the certifiers and public, and helps represent OMRI on regulatory issues. Prior to work with OMRI, she served as Technical Director to the Northeast Organic Farming Association of NJ since 1992, was a past chair person of the Organic Certifiers Council, and co-author (along with Jim Riddle and Lynn Coody) of the Organic Trade Associations "American Organic Standards." She has a M.S. in horticultural science from Rutgers University and has also worked on conventional and organic farms in tree fruit and strawberry production.

Dave Engel has been an organic dairy farmer for 22 years, along with his Marta, his wife, and their four children. He has been active in the certification sphere of the organic industry, first as the Program Director for the Wisconsin OCIA #1 Chapter (1988-2002), and most recently (since March1999) as executive director of the Midwest Organic Services Association.
Engel presently co-chairs the Steering Committee of the Organic Trade Association's (OTA’s) certifiers’ council, and has held many positions throughout the years in various board and committee capacities – usually getting back home to milk the cows.

Zea Sonnabend (former Certification Team member) has been an organic farmer, gardener, inspector, educator, policy analyst, author, and consumer for the past 22 years. She grew older, wiser, and organic figs in Tehama County, CA from 1982 - 1989. She has been on the certification committee for CA Certified Organic Farmers since 1985 and helped write the first certification handbook and materials list for organic farming in California.

Sonnabend helped start the program for review of Brand Name Materials formulations, and worked for the USDA and NOSB as a contractor to develop the National List. She is currently an organic farm inspector and materials policy person for CCOF,
is on the OMRI board of directors and coordinates the Ecological Farming Conference at Asilomar, CA. She believes in making it possible for all farmers to have the knowledge and tools to be able to farm with organic integrity.

Rick Martinez has been an organic farmer in the Tampa, FL, area for over 25 years. Rick is the founder and Executive Director of Sweetwater Organic Community Farm, a CSA serving the Tampa area with a wide variety of seasonal vegetables and sub-tropical fruits. He brings his farming experience together with a degree in engineering in his consulting and inspection work. Rick has conducted organic inspections in over 30 countries worldwide and has extensive experience working in tropical regions. In addition, he has has conducted inspector trainings in many different regions of the world, served as a board member for the Independent Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA) for 6 years, served 2 years as IOIA Chair and participates in dance contests wherever he travels.