The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has been advocating for organic food and farming for more than two decades. I have worked alongside many pioneers and have seen organic farming grow from a fledgling movement available to few, into a $40 billion a year industry. Despite years of double-digit growth, the number of certified organic farms in the U.S. is struggling to keep pace with soaring consumer demand.
My family’s egg business was saved by going organic. We were rescued again when we joined forces with the Organic Trade Association to fight a regulation that threatened the continuation of our operation. Now the organic sector has a chance to band together for a common cause that could benefit the entire organic industry and better all of our futures.
Thirty years ago when I started in the organic produce industry, it was called a trade—a cottage industry whose participants had no inkling of what it would become today. There was no formal way to cool and ship product, no salad mix, and a handful of apple varieties. We spent hours on the phone trying to get a purchase order and celebrated when we did. We waged an uphill battle to establish credibility in a market that asked for quick and easy and didn't want to know where food came from. We were determined to overcome the obstacles of logistics and naysayers.
After many years of dialog, there is a proposed research and promotion check-off program designed just for ORGANIC. All that’s needed now is YOUR comment to USDA supporting this game-changing initiative.
If you’re like me, you’ve spent the last couple of months reassessing the future. The outcome of the 2016 presidential election was not what I expected.
As a policymaker—especially with my work in agriculture—it’s forced me to re-approach questions I previously thought I had answers to (or at least educated guesses).
COTA’s Fifth Annual Parliament Hill Day & Policy Conference took place this past October 25- 26. This two-day event brought together members from across the organic industry and Parliamentarians to discuss organic in Canada and share organic policy asks.
The Organic Reception on Parliament Hill, hosted by MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau, featured Canadian organic food and drink donated by COTA members. It was a great evening to relax and network with other industry leaders and MPs.
Canada’s current agricultural policy framework, Growing Forward 2, is set to expire in just over a year’s time. This five-year CAD$3 billion investment in the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector saw the administration of three federal programs—AgriInnovation, AgriCompetitiveness and AgriMarketing—as well as a number of cost-shared programs delivered across the provinces and territories. With this plan on its way out, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is in the process of developing the next agricultural policy framework.
The year 2016 yielded an impressive number of research projects of interest to the organic community, with studies coming out highlighting the environmental and health benefits of organic.
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.