Here’s a quick review of the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) Program.
Certification is a voluntary process by which an organization grants recognition to an individual who has met certain predetermined qualifications or standards. This is not unique to CCA but across all professions.
The value to the individual, employer, or client are around these five categories: Creditability, opportunities, motivation, ability, and validation. They are not the same for everyone but one that I think sums up the total falls under validation and was expressed to me by someone who is certified. Anyone can say they are a crop adviser, but the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) says a CCA is a Certified Crop Adviser. That’s the validation of the person’s abilities and knowledge by a respected professional and scientific organization.
The value of being certified is also reinforced by the increasing requests by other organizations to work with CCAs and/or the program. These organizations span the scope of government agencies, conservation and environment groups, and private companies.
There are 13,357 CCAs in North America. The program is active in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, with the vast majority in the U.S., where the program began almost 25 years ago. It has had about a 1% continuous growth over the past five years.
The specialties that were more recently added continue to grow. There are 357 4R Nutrient Management Specialists and beginning in 2018 this specialty will be available in the majority of states in the eastern U.S. and Ontario. The northwest U.S. and western Canada will be working on the specialty for a 2019 release. Sustainability Specialist has 98 and Resistance Management Specialist has 73 both began in August 2016 so they have not been available quite as long as the 4RNMS but did begin with a national scope whereas 4RNMS started in six states. The Certified Professional Agronomist is currently at 479 individuals. You can learn more about these specialties and the program in general at www.certifiedcropadviser.org.
A new specialty is under development in precision ag. The goal is to bring the technology and agronomy knowledge together for a CCA who advises farmers on this topic. This specialty should be ready in August 2018 or February 2019. The development team is currently working on the performance objectives that will guide the exam question development.
Coming in June 2018, ASA will host a conference on sustainable agronomy. Sustainability is growing in interest among all stakeholders in agriculture and food production. It combines the economic, environmental, and social aspects of the farm business to help ensure that the food system continues beyond the current generation. The conference will focus on practical and applied sustainable production practices that a CCA can recommend to their clients. CCAs have a significant role to play in expanding more sustainable production practices at the farm level.
Thank you to all of the CCAs, employers, and volunteers who have made the program what it is today. Check out the Website to learn more.