Inspection Services Blog

ISD Staff Spotlight: CA State Organic Program Special Investigator Mayze Fowler-Riggs has passion for education & enforcement

NAME: Mayze Fowler-Riggs

TIME AT CDFA: 8 years

PROGRAM: State Organic Program

POSITION TITLE: Special Investigator

USUAL DAILY ACTIVITES ON THE JOB? I oversee part of the statewide enforcement and outreach efforts of organic agricultural products based on the provisions of the California Organic Food and Farming Act (COFFA), the federal Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA) and applicable federal and state regulations. Daily, I am responsible for conducting investigations, managing complaints and collaboratively working with the National Organic Program (NOP), Accredited Certifying Agencies (ACAs), County Agricultural Commissioner offices (CACs) and state agencies related to the enforcement of U.S. and California laws governing the SOP. In addition, I conduct announced and unannounced inspections and pesticide sampling of producers, handlers, processors and retailers to determine compliance with applicable laws and regulations. As the lead special investigator for SOP’s Pasture Surveillance Program, I ensure that farm management practices of organic dairies are compliant with the organic livestock standards and NOP regulations. I also regularly prepare and provide training to California counties on organic laws and regulations related to compliance and investigations. Separately, I lead the compilation of California organic agriculture data that is disseminated annually through CDFA’s California Agricultural Statistics Review.

HOW DO YOU WORK FOR THE CALIFORNIA FOOD SUPPLY? As part of the SOP team, I, along with the NOP, ACAs and CACs, provide integrity to the organic food supply system by ensuring that producers, handlers, processors and retailers are meeting the organic standards set forth in COFFA, OFPA and in NOP and SOP regulations. Additionally, facilitating announced and unannounced inspections, sampling and investigations contribute to the vital role that we play in protecting the value to the organic seal and organic product food supply system.

THOUGHTS OF WORKING AT INSPECTION SERVICES? The engagement and support that I’ve received from my peers and ISD leadership has been both meaningful and impactful. In addition, ISD provides me with the opportunity to pursue my passions for providing outreach, education and enforcement in the organic agriculture sector.

MEMORABLE MOMENT ON THE JOB? The most memorable moment is serving as a founding steering committee member for CDFA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. Being able to take part in this committee provided me skills that are invaluable and has granted me a depth of understanding of leadership, connection and collaboration that has only continued to benefit my skill set as an SOP special investigator.

PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE? My philosophy is like an old African proverb my mother used to tell me when I was young, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” It is this that has led me to value building connections with people in all facets of my life, both professionally and personally.

The California State Organic Program is in the Inspection and Compliance Branch of CDFA’s Inspection Services Division.

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