As a Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Specialist with NCAT in California, Ann Baier answers farmer and rancher questions and facilitates practical workshops.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from Lewis and Clark College, Ann completed her master’s in International Agricultural Development at the University of California at Davis in 1990 with a specialization in Agronomy.
Prior to joining the NCAT staff in 2002, Ann worked, in several locations and roles, to build farmer capacity for organic agriculture. Through on-farm research and community-based education programs in Central and South America, she both gained and shared knowledge of organic systems and their component practices, such as cover cropping, composting, and ecological pest management. She continues to do this kind of work in California, especially with small-scale and beginning farmers.
She became an organic inspector in 2000 following training with the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA), on whose Board she later served. She has worked with several certifiers as an inspector, reviewer, and forms developer, keeping pace with the progression of changes though the transition to federal regulations and ongoing adjustments in certification systems. Using her experience of inspecting organic farms, livestock operations, and processing facilities, she seeks to help new and prospective farmers understand the requirements of certification and recordkeeping and how dedication to these practices can strengthen any agricultural business, whether or not they seek organic certification. With support from USDA’s National Organic Program, NCAT has developed Organic System Plan forms and recordkeeping templates to facilitate famers’ progress.
To provide educational opportunities, Ann collaborates with several other organizations with complementary missions, participating in a network of organizations committed to sustainable agriculture around the Central Coast, such as the Ecological Farming Association, California Farmlink, El Pajaro Community Development Corporation, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, California Certified Organic Farmers, and the Agricultural Land-Based Training Center (ALBA). NCAT frequently hosts joint bilingual workshops with ALBA at their incubator farm site. These are open both to their beginning farmer and farm incubator program participants (many of whom are farmworkers working to establish their own agricultural businesses) and to any other farmers in the Central Coast Region.
Ann lives in Santa Cruz County, providing an NCAT presence in the Central Coast region – where organic agriculture is a significant and growing part of the agricultural landscape – amid exceedingly productive operations, including multi-generational vegetable, berry, and tree fruit farmers as well as range cattle producers and diverse beginning farmers. In addition to her fulfilling work with farmers, Ann likes spending time in the garden, exploring with her two young sons, and running trails among the redwoods.