James Riddle and Joyce Ford Papers, 1980-2018


James Alan Riddle was born in 1956. He graduated from Grinnell College in 1978 with a degree in Biology and Political Science. Riddle worked for the Iowa State Senate and taught junior high school after graduation. After moving to Minnesota, he worked full-time from 1980 to 1993 on his family's 10-acre organic vegetable farm, was elected supervisor of the Winona County Soil and Water Conservation District (1986-1990), was founding president of the Winona (Minnesota) Farmers Market Association (1987-1993), and worked with the Winona County Economic Development Authority as a proponent of local food systems and sustainable agriculture. He served as an organic inspector for twenty years (1987-2007), operated Organic Independents (with Joyce Ford), an organic inspection and consulting business; was founding chair (1991-1995) of the Independent Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA, later renamed the International Organic Inspectors Association); and starting in 1995 served as IOIA Training Coordinator for other inspectors around the world. Riddle and Ford also co-authored What's in an Organic Standard? (1997), a comparative study of national and international organic standards for the Organic Trade Association (OTA). They served as project directors for a working group that developed templates for standardized forms that organic inspectors worldwide have subsequently used. A Federal State Market Improvement Program (FSMIP) grant funded this and other projects: an IOIA Training Coordinators Manual (Riddle and Ford, 1998); an apprenticeship program; the IOIA Organic Inspection Manual (1995; 2nd edition, 1998); and Organic Certification Form Templates (1998).

In 1999, Riddle co-authored the American Organic Standards (AOS), a project for the Organic Trade Association, which was released prior to the USDA National Organic Program's Final Rule in December of 2000. Building on their earlier work, Riddle and Ford also co-authored the IFOAM/IOIA International Inspection Manual (2000), widely regarded as the standard work in the field and which has been translated into Spanish, French, Japanese, and Russian. Riddle's work with the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM) includes service on the IFOAM Accreditation Programme Board (1996-2000), speaking at IFOAM conferences, serving as a delegate for the U.S. Codex Commission for the development of Codex International Organic Guidelines (1997-2002), and organizing and fundraising for the First IFOAM Conference on Animals in Organic Production (2006) at the University of Minnesota. He served on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Organic Advisory Task Force (MOATF, 1991-2009; chair 2016-2019), held the Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems at the University of Minnesota (2003-2004), and served a five-year term on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB, 2001-2006; chair 2004-2005). Appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, the 15 board members make recommendations for the National List of Approved and Prohibited Substances for Organic Agriculture and advise the National Organic Program (NOP) on related matters. He was also an organic policy specialist for New Farm, a Rodale Institute resource. Riddle has spoken extensively at many conferences and workshops, and published numerous articles, interviews, and webinars. Riddle served as the Organic Outreach Coordinator for the University of Minnesota (U of M) Southwest Research and Outreach Center (SROC, 2006-2013), and as the Coordinator for the Graduate Student Organic Research Grant Program at the Ceres Trust (2013-2017). He also chaired the leadership team for eOrganic, an online resource for the organic agriculture community administered by the Cooperative Extension System; served on the Minnesota Agriculture Water Quality Certification Program Advisory Committee; and chaired the Board of Supervisors of the Winona County Soil and Water Conservation District Board (2009-2015; chair 2011-2015).

Joyce Ford worked on her family's 10-acre certified organic vegetable farm for twenty years, and served on the boards of the Organic Buyers and Growers Association (OGBA) and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). She became an organic inspector in 1993, conducted many organic inspector trainings across the world, and co-authored the IFOAM/IOIA International Inspection Manual (2000). She wrote the OCC/IOIA Organic Inspector Apprenticeship Program, co-wrote the IOIA Training Coordinators Manual, served as coordinator of IOIA (1992-1999), chaired its Ethics Committee, and was an alternate on the IOIA board of directors. She also served on the board of directors of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES, 2003-2005; president, 2005), as well as the Organic Growers and Buyers Association (OGBA). Ford was the primary author of a manual based on the Organic Trade Association's Good Organic Retailing Practices (GORP), and developed training seminars for retailers. She also became a site monitor for oil pipelines that crossed certified organic farms in the state of Minnesota to mitigate negative impacts on certified organic farm operations, and trained others as site monitors. Ford also worked with the International Organic Accreditation Service (IOAS).

Riddle and Ford performed organic inspection and consulting work for their company, Organic Independents, and in 2009 founded Blue Fruit Farm, a certified organic four-acre fruit farm. In 2013, they received a Sustie Award from the Ecological Farming Association for their work in support of sustainable agriculture. In 2019, Riddle and Ford were honored as the Organic Farmers of the Year at the annual Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) Organic Farming Conference. They are married and have two daughters, Laura and Sonja.