An ongoing concern for the organic sector has been the lack of enforcement of organic claims on non-food items that are non-agricultural.
The Organic Trade Association unites and serves more than 8,500 organic farmers, handlers, ranchers, processors, distributors, and retailers across the organic supply chain. In fact, 2016 saw the biggest growth in OTA membership in over five years. If you’re one of the many members who already relies on OTA for its government relations, media outreach, and market insights work, thank you for your support. If not, take a look at a few of the many highlights of OTA’s work on behalf of the sector, and join us in our work to chart organic’s future.
Information collected from U.S. accredited organic certifying agents for 2014 and 2015 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released in December 2016 showed 14,861 U.S. organic farms in operation in 2015, with 5.3 million acres farmed organically. Of that total, slightly more than 2.1 million acres were used for certified organic pasture and rangeland.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has hired two experienced government affairs professionals to join its team.
Kelley Poole (above, left) is now OTA’s Vice President of Government Affairs. In addition, Megan DeBates (above, right) has been named Director of Legislative Affairs and Coalitions Both based at OTA’s Washington, D.C., office at the Hall of the States, they will help introduce organic food and farming to the new Administration and Congress.
On January 11, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) announced a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help guide farmers transitioning into certified organic agricultural production.
Using standards developed by OTA, the National Certified Transitional Program will provide oversight to approved Accredited Organic Certifying Agents offering transitional certification to producers. This will help ease the transition process to organic, allow farmers to sell their products as certified transitional at a premium, and encourage more organic production.
The growth of the organic industry relies on continued consumer confidence that the organic label is backed up by an assurance of adherence to the organic production and handling standards. To ensure that organic farmers and handlers are meeting organic requirements, organic certifiers conduct annual inspections, unannounced inspections, residue testing, and market surveillance. In addition to these enforcement mechanisms, complaints from the general public serve an important role in identifying potential violations of the organic standards.
Bioponics and containerized production were a significant topic of discussion at the Fall 2016 NOSB meeting in St. Louis, MO. Hydroponics, aeroponics, aquaponics, bioponics, and containers are all buzzwords that are used to describe different production systems, but what do these various terms and definitions mean, and what do these systems look like?
Organic regulations require certified operations to demonstrate they are promoting ecological balance, conserving biodiversity, managing livestock to meet health and wellness requirements and using only approved farming and handling inputs. Organic agriculture is also governed by the basic rule that natural and organic inputs are allowed while synthetic inputs are prohibited. In some cases, however, synthetic or non-organic inputs are the only option available because of the absence of a natural or organic alternative.
The single most effective way you can address the range of critical issues facing your organic business is by joining the Organic Trade Association. OTA has promoted and protected the organic business community for thirty years. We have the strategic know-how to effectively address issues, both large and small, that impact your bottom line. Welcome to the new OTA members who have joined us in 2016.
The booming U.S. organic industry posted new records in 2015, with total organic product sales hitting $43.3 billion, up a robust 11 percent from the previous year’s record level and far outstripping the overall food market’s growth rate of 3 percent, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2016 Organic Industry Survey.