Update on OTA Sector Councils

Farmers Advisory Council

The Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) Farmers Advisory Council (FAC) is growing its organizational and direct member participation. Numerous farmer organizations across the country have expressed interest in joining FAC, and OTA looks forward to working with each organization in facilitating their involvement. Similarly, as OTA continues to grow its direct farmer membership, we expect participation on FAC to develop in both its breadth and depth.

FAC will continue to be the forum for organic farmers to bring forth individual issues and policy items integral to their success. Going into the next Farm Bill cycle, OTA will look to FAC to play a significant role in developing our Farm Bill policy platform, working with lawmakers on the Hill for organic Farm Bill priorities, and seeing these priorities to fruition in the final 2018 Farm Bill.

Additional ongoing priorities for FAC that fall outside the scope of the Farm Bill include climate change, labor and immigration, and pesticide contamination. These issues will continue on FAC’s 2017 agenda, and FAC will look towards partnerships with other farm-related groups and organizations to make progress in these areas that affect both organic and conventional growers.

Organic Fiber Council

The Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) Organic Fiber Council, officially approved in April 2015, is growing its company participation and working to strengthen its efforts to promote organic fiber and textiles. The council now has 26 OTA member companies, 10 of which were new in 2016. The aim of this council is to create a cohesive voice across fiber categories within OTA, and to grow the organic fiber sector overall.

In 2016, the Fiber Council updated and reorganized the OTA fiber web page making it a more informative and user-friendly site for new and existing members to visit. The council is currently focusing its energy on developing a resource guide for companies selling certified organic fiber products and raising funds for an OTA fiber media event tentatively scheduled for early spring of 2017 in New York City.

The purpose of the media event is to raise awareness, promote organic fiber and textiles, and educate shoppers and the media on why purchasing organic fiber and textiles matters for people and the environment. The media and public will have the opportunity to meet and talk with brands and leading industry experts, touch and feel products and learn more about the rapidly growing organic fiber movement.

Organic Dietary Supplements Council

In other developments, the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) Organic Dietary Supplements Council was officially approved in August 2016. The council is currently comprised of 12 member companies and its aim is to provide a forum for discussing issues, challenges and opportunities related to the sector and to grow the organic supplement industry.

The inaugural meeting of the Council was held in conjunction with Natural Products Expo East 2016 in September where the group developed its work plan. Looking ahead, the Council will become more engaged in the work of the National Organic Standards Board and the process for reviewing and approving critical inputs needed in organic dietary supplements.

The Council will also be working to build an OTA dietary supplement web page with resources and links to help educate and raise awareness on the requirements and challenges behind the formulation and marketing of organic dietary supplements under USDA’s National Organic Program.

Organic Grain, Pulse, and Oilseed Council

The Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) Organic Grain, Pulse, and Oilseed Council, officially approved in October 2015, will look to grow its participation and has established a quarterly meeting schedule in conjunction with OTA activities at Natural Products Expo West, Natural Products Expo East, and OTA’s Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.

The council has prioritized continuing the work of the U.S. Organic Grain Collaborative as its top work plan agenda item for 2017. The U.S. Organic Grain Collaborative has worked for the past few years to identify barriers producers face when attempting to enter the organic grain market, and to develop solutions, both market-based and policy-related, to these barriers.  Several council members have contributed financially to continuing this work, with the strategic assistance of Sustainable Food Lab, in a three-year strategic plan that aims to support the increase of organic grain acres in the U.S. while maintaining organic grain farming’s profitability. 

The council is designed to function as a forum for the grain sector to bring forth issues and ideas relevant to the success and growth of organic grain production in the U.S., such as transitional certification and crop insurance. It will advise OTA on these issues as they arise. Additionally, OTA will look to the council to help develop and implement its 2018 Farm Bill policy platform.   //