Organic Trade Association members face the challenge head-on with innovative initiatives
Planting trees in the Peruvian Amazon, working with dairy farms to improve soil health, transforming farmland to regenerative agriculture, installing new solar panels, designing fully recyclable or compostable food packaging, reducing food waste. Ambitious, diversified, visionary projects underway by organic companies, with one common goal – to fight against climate change.
The Organic Trade Association’s Member Day in D.C. in May. kicked off with a crucial discussion on the long-term challenge of providing technical assistance for organic production. Members heard about two major initiatives, both focused on “training the trainers” to expand the supply of organically fluent educators.
Across the value chain, organic producers, processors, retailers, consumers, and other stakeholders are actively engaging to advance organic standards and federal oversight to maintain a strong, trusted, and verified Organic seal.
Organic is an entirely unique public-private partnership, a voluntary program overseen by third-party private certifiers with the added force of government oversight that has created the most rigorous and transparent set of food standards in the world. Organic farmers and businesses are one of the few industries that want the government to ensure that standards and regulations governing them are robust and stringent. But what happens when the government fails to uphold its end of the bargain?
Brothers Rod and Bob Grimm founded iconic carrot brand Grimmway Farms in 1969. The company acquired Cal-Organic, a pioneering organic grower, from founder Danny Duncan in 2001. Organic Trade Association Board Member and Pioneer Emeritus of Organically Grown Company David Lively first visited Cal-Organic in 1985 when it was only a few acres, and Danny was preparing to certify 300 acres the next year. Lively recently talked organic, carrots and pride with Grimmway’s President Jeff Huckaby on the occasion of Grimmway’s 50th anniversary.
Over the past three years, the Organic Trade Association and its members have been heavily engaged in shaping and advancing key priorities for the organic sector in the new farm bill. It started with a survey sent out in fall 2016 to certified organic operations around the country asking for feedback on what the challenges and needs were for organic. The survey results helped inform our farm bill policy priorities.
Food fraud, or the act of defrauding buyers of food or ingredients for economic gain, has plagued the food industry throughout history. Although it is not known conclusively how widespread food fraud is in the United States or worldwide, it is now estimated to be a $50 billion industry for the total food market --about the same size as the entire 2017 U.S. organic market.