Moving forward with big ideas

This is a monumental time for U.S. organic agriculture, as we move ahead with big ideas for improvements to serve our sector for the long haul.

The organic sector continues to be a busy one, advancing important initiatives, as evidenced in our trade association’s review of the past year and a review of the work of U.S. Organic Worldwide.  Some of the seeds of our work are just now bearing fruit—from transitional certification to additional cost-share provisions.

More than four years ago, the Organic Trade Association started laying the groundwork for what can be categorized as our most ambitious initiative since national organic standards went into effect—that of an organic check-off. We are excited to note that as a result of this long-term effort, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in January officially published a proposed nationwide research and promotion check-off program for the organic industry in the Federal Register.

This is truly a significant step that could advance the growing organic sector and have important and long-lasting benefits for organic farmers, businesses and consumers alike. The journey still continues, as we seek to garner even more support for this proposal in the months ahead, leading up to an industry referendum that will determine its outcome. You can read more about this developing story.

This edition also contains many other gems. The cover article spotlights a handful of Millennials who are remarkable examples of the force of this generation in advancing organic, whether it be through social media, farm production, research, or individual enterprise. A feature inside highlights how one working college dropped its failing football program and achieved success by starting an organic farm on its field. Another feature examines shoppers’ beliefs about organic claims on non-food products and what OTA recommends on addressing the need to enforce such claims.

Also on the regulatory front, this edition looks at the criteria used for the National List, whether ‘bioponics” and container growing fit into organic production, and how to file a complaint. Meanwhile, our Legislative section looks at how OTA and partnering organizations are already exploring possible provisions to advocate for in the next round of farm bill talks, and other legislative issues such as food waste and urban agriculture that may be part of the discussions.

I am pleased that Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine authored our End Piece in this edition. Her article is upbeat and hopeful, aptly appearing under the title “Three reasons for optimism in a time of uncertainty.”

We have the will and the energy to take our big ideas in the next level—join with us as we do!

Laura Batcha
OTA's CEO/Executive Director