Farm inspections are complex and require a good deal of preparation
Noemi Imfeld und Nina Marolf
Behind the scenes at bio.inspecta, two young women are pulling the strings.
The PCs in the main building in Frick are running a little slower again. The reason for this is the Secretariat of the Agricultural Division. Noemi Imfeld, Head of the Secretariat, is preparing the inspection orders for the coming year. The 26-year-old leads a team of five, all young women, most of whom have a direct connection to the farming sector.
Noemi Imfeld already completed her apprenticeship as a business administrator at bio.inspecta. That‘s where she got the organic farming bug. «I like the structures in the company, but even more so the direct contact with the client farmers. You become much more aware of the way food is produced and really appreciate what ends up on your plate,» says Noemi Imfeld.
Lower costs thanks to inspection packages
In December, the main inspections are carried out; these are the announced inspections that are conducted annually. In particular, they check for compliance with the Organic Farming Ordinance and with private labels such as Bio Suisse or Demeter.
Throughout January and February, Noemi Imfeld also receives the public-law inspection orders issued by the cantonal coordination offices. Whenever possible, these are combined with the main inspection. In addition to the Organic Farming Ordinance, compliance with animal welfare programmes or the Swiss ÖLN scheme (documentation of ecological services provided in tillage farming), for example, is also inspected at the same time. This is a major advantage for both the farmers and bio.inspecta. Instead of having to deal with multiple inspections, the farm is inspected only once. This is also reflected in the fees payable.
Nina Marolf, Head of the Inspection Department, elaborates: «The inspection packages eliminate unnecessary journeys and ‘mini-inspections’. This saves the farms a lot of money!». The 25-year-old has been working at bio.inspecta since mid-2021 and enjoys being able to combine desk work and on-farm presence. As a trained farmer with a degree in agricultural engineering, she is very familiar with the practical side of things. «Eye-level communication with farmers is crucial. Thanks to my training and experience, I understand my counterparts," says Nina Marolf.
Noemi Imfeld and her team mainly take care of the administrative work related to the agricultural producers. A glance at their office desks shows just how diverse this area is. While some are preparing inspections, others are handling changes in farm managers, assigning inspections to the relevant inspectors, or supervising the trainees.
Noemi Imfeld says: «The seasons and even the weather on the day dictate our work. When it's raining, many farmers head for their office. As a result, we have a lot more to do than on a sunny day in June when everyone is out haying or cutting aftergrass. We can feel that right here in the office!»
In autumn and winter, many new registrations come in. The first client contact often takes place in the Secretariat of the Agricultural Division. The staff here handle the contractual aspects relating to the clients, labels and cantons and clarify whether there are any technical questions. These are then cleared up by a free organic farm check on site or by phone on the hotline.
Intensive communication ensures a smooth process
Noemi Imfeld and Nina Marolf work closely together. While Noemi Imfeld takes care of the administrative part, Nina Marolf is in charge of organising the inspections. She is the contact person for the regional managers and inspectors on site and monitors compliance with deadlines.
The individual inspectors are active in specific regions which may traverse cantonal boundaries. Nina Marolf notes: «This fact is taken into account when scheduling inspections and training!»
Things would fall apart without them
Roughly 9500 inspections will have been carried out by the inspectors by the end of the year. Crucially, Noemi Imfeld and Nina Marolf are pulling the strings in the background. The two young women masterfully conduct themselves on the male- dominated agricultural dancefloor!
Andrin Pescatore, bio.inspecta AG