Shared Responsibility

At a congressional roundtable discussion on organic agriculture in June, I told the House Agricultural Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research that taking action to prevent fraud in the organic marketplace is a shared responsibility. This responsibility applies not only to incidents of fraudulent livestock feed imports but to all of our efforts to advance and protect organic.

Advocating for and educating about organic are truly a shared responsibility. As verified by the Organic Trade Association’s 2017 Organic Industry Survey, the U.S. organic sector is strong and growing. Organic’s successful voluntary regulatory program rewards farmers and businesses that opt in, and has made organic products widely available, resulting in more than 80 percent of American households now purchasing some organic products.

Consumers trust the USDA Organic seal, and maintaining its integrity is of vital importance for the organic sector. The Organic Trade Association has commended the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its recent action to revoke the organic certification of a foreign handler responsible for fraudulent organic grain imports, and has assured lawmakers that we are prepared to discuss and act on improvements to oversight of the seal—because it is a shared responsibility.

We have used feedback from our survey of producers and handlers to help develop our policy priorities for the 2018 Farm Bill. Because our members and staff shared in the responsibility of defining our farm bill priorities, the trade association is urging strong authority and increased funding for the National Organic Program, robust resources for federal research on organic production practices, and the full use of existing USDA programs to give the organic sector the tools necessary for your continued success.

At our annual Policy Conference and Hill Visits Day during Organic Week in D.C., the hundreds of participating OTA members articulated our shared messages about the benefits of organic agriculture and its role in the U.S. agricultural economy. Taking our stories to government officials, whether in our hometown communities or nationally, does make a difference, and is a shared responsibility.

In this edition, you will see how we are carrying out the voice and representing the face of organic. You will also read about how Organic Trade Association members and others are following the organic path. There is Jayson Werth, a baseball star who is also farming organically in Illinois. Then there is Hip Chick Farms in California whose owners are ‘growing’ the organic chicken nugget market. Meanwhile, Georgia Organics, with its goal to boost the number of certified organic farmers in the state to 200, recently joined our Farmers Advisory Council. And please don’t miss our cover feature on organic companies that are doing well while doing good.

This coming September, we will celebrate the achievements of three of our members who will be receiving 2017 Organic Leadership Awards. Their accomplishments and the progress they have attained for organic—locally, nationally and internationally—are inspirational.

We welcome your continued positive energy and involvement as we protect and promote organic, for our communities and our planet, and as we share the organic responsibility with you.

Laura Batcha
OTA's CEO/Executive Director