International Certified Crop Advisor Program
The ICCA Program is part of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA). It is the largest agriculturally focused professional certification in North America. There are 39 certifying boards representing 13,000 CCAs and 650 Certified Professional Agronomists (CPAg) globally. Born in the USA 20 years ago, the program expanded to Canada shortly thereafter and more recently to India, Mexico and Argentina.
A CCA must meet examination, education, experience and ethics standards covering nutrient management, soil and water management, integrated pest management and crop management. CCA sets the knowledge standard for those advising farmers on their agronomic practices and expands on that knowledge base through a comprehensive continuing education requirement. Every CCA must earn 40 hours of continuing education covering the same four competency modules listed above. CPAg takes it one step further by requiring at least a BS degree in agronomy with advanced experience requirements. CPAg requires 50 hours of continuing education and in addition to the four competence modules must also earn hours in professional development and service.
CCA and CPAg set standards for agronomy professionals that farmers, employers and the general public can rely upon. It provides risk management by reducing the chance for poor advice and provides a more comprehensive peer review procedure than most employment processes. It provides a sound quality control standard.
The CCA – International Council (responsible for standards setting for the program globally) recently decided to incorporate the 4R language into the ICCA Program. A CCA is well prepared to address the components of the 4R program by passing the comprehensive credentialing exams that are required of all CCAs. Two of the four competency modules are nutrient management and soil and water management covered by the exams to become certified and they also need to earn at least five hours in each area through continuing education every two years. You can review the exam performance objectives and the educational areas document on our web site: www.certifiedcropadviser.org/exams and www.certifiedcropadviser.org/continuing-education
CCAs represent a large and qualified – validated by the ASA through certification – nutrient stewardship work force. CCAs make recommendations to farmers and landowners on the right fertilizer source, rate, time and place as part of what they do every day. Farmers rely on their CCAs for sound agronomic information and products.
CCAs typically service 25 to 30 farmers as full time customers with another 40 to 60 farmers that they have some type of contact with or potential influence. CCAs have the potential to reach 845,000 to 1,170,000 farmers/landowners with sound nutrient stewardship. A survey conducted by ASA found that 74% of CCAs specify or recommend products and services to their [farmer] clients. The top products were fertilizer and crop protection. Each CCA on average recommends between $1 and $5 million in products and services per year. (combined total: $13 to $65 billion annually) CCAs and CPAgs are a group with nutrient stewardship influence and reach.
CCAs recommend and sell fertilizers as described above. Some only make recommendations but the vast majority work for Ag Retail businesses selling agricultural inputs and advising. ASA recently developed an 8 week, two hours per week online educational program that is being offered for the first time in November 2012 through January 2013 and again January through March 2013 with an optional field component that will track implementation of nutrient best management practices. ASA also offers online courses in nitrogen management and phosphorous management.
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