Organic Trade Association's BOLD STEPS

We sat down with Organic Trade Association Board members and asked them to share which of our Bold Steps plans they were most excited about and why. Here is an overview of the Organic Trade Association's big, bold plans for the future.

Which of our new Bold Steps are you most excited about?

Laura Batcha, CEO/Executive Director
Organic Trade Association

The Board-adopted Bold Steps set strategic goals that will guide our work to advance organic for the next three to five years. While I’m excited about each key initiative that supports these bold plans, I am particularly motivated by our ideas to expand and diversify our membership and support our Task Forces and Sector Councils in collaborating, problem-solving, and interacting across the organic value chain. Read the Board’s responses and you’ll see that we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but there’s plenty of room at the table for everyone who wants to be involved. I’d enjoy the chance to chat with you about our priorities, your challenges, and how we can work together. Send me a note at


Kim Dietz, Senior Manager, Environmental, Natural and Organic Policy, The J.M. Smucker Company
Board President

I am most excited about two projects specifically linked to the Organic Trade Association’s Bold Steps.  Those are the Fraud Prevention Program (under Continuous Improvement) and the Voluntary Check-off program (under Embrace Innovation)  I have been working on these since their inception, and am so proud of the work that our staff and members have done to get these programs part of the bold steps.  For me personally, the future of organic is going to require that we are leading in areas that make us most vulnerable. We MUST promote and protect USDA Certified Organic!

Melissa Hughes, Chief Mission Officer & General Counsel, Organic Valley
Board Vice President--USA

I’m most excited about the Bold Step that empowers member communities to seek solutions.  As a cooperative of 2,000 family farms, Organic Valley is constantly striving to engage our members in meaningful conversations that impact both their business (their farms) and help make Organic Valley successful.  The Organic Trade Association, as a member organization, is really very much the same – we need strong participation from our members, and that participation has to be meaningful – it has to be solution oriented and driving towards what the members need to be more successful in the marketplace. The word “empower” is really important – the work and engagement have to be driven by the members, meet the needs of the members, and ultimately be owned by the members.  Saying this all out loud as a bold step really makes us walk our walk of being a membership-driven, democratic organization.

James Sculthorpe, CEO, Yorkshire Valley Farms
Board Vice President--Canada

I am most excited with the Organic Trade Association’s initiative to support and engage on matters that will enhance soil health.  I strongly believe a focus on soil health can have a very meaningful impact as we tackle environmental, social and economic issues.

Perry Clutts, Owner, Pleasantview Farm

As an organic farmer, I am most interested in Bold Step 1#, Advocate for Continuous Improvement. We are always looking for new and advanced methods to farm using up to date organic methods. If we focus on improving and caring for our land and animals, innovation, solutions and a positive future will fall into place. Discussions with the OTA Farmer Advisory Council members and the general membership can help bring practical on farm discovery and improvement. This applies not only at the farm level, but up the supply chain all the way to the consumer. Discovering and implementing improved methods within the supply chain will produce the finest organic products and serve our consumers well.

Marci Zaroff, Founder, Under the Canopy/Founder/CEO, MetaWear

Inspired at the intersection of continuous improvement and embracing innovation, I am very excited about the Organic Trade Association’s leadership role in elevating organic as a key solution to climate change. By regenerating soil health and biodiversity—while connecting source to science to story, we possess an unparalleled opportunity to drive win-win-win business models from farm to finished product, and people to planet.

Doug Crabtree, Owner/Operator, Vilicus Farms

I am most excited for the commitment to continuous improvement of organic practice and standards.  I am proud that the OTA is declaring that organic is not a static point, but rather an evolutionary movement towards sustainability.  This will enable us to take back the offensive from efforts to create competing labels and standards.  I look forward to working with our members to:

  • increase funding (for) and agronomic research to improve organic farming systems; 
  • to improve (rather than merely defend) organic standards; 
  • to replace existing “allowed” substances with organic alternatives; and
  • to develop innovative risk-sharing relationships among all levels of the organic value chain that enhance our ability to improve and expand organic.

Tracy Favre, Global Director, Certification Services, Quality Assurance International

I’m most excited about organic as a solution to climate change and improved soil health. We have an opportunity to make a global impact through organic agriculture, and it’s important this happen sooner rather than later.  In my career, as first an environmental engineer and then an organic inspector, I’ve been actively engaged in environmental protection for many years. It is great to see this as an Organic Trade Association priority.

Chris Jagger, Owner/Operator, Blue Fox Farm

Ensuring Supply Chain Integrity is one of the most important Bold Steps that the Organic Trade Association can focus on. Technology and cultural awareness of organic are both moving at lightning fast speeds. As organic grows globally, we need to find solutions to guarantee that the foods and materials landing in consumers' hands are what they are billed to be. I'm excited to see how technologies like blockchain will fit into the future of supply chain integrity. Organic has always been synonymous with integrity, and we should keep it that way as we continue to grow as an industry.

Bob Kaake, Innovation Director, Annie’s Inc.
Board Chair, Governance Committee

The Bold Step I am most excited about is Embrace Innovation. Innovation for the organic industry can come from many different aspects.  It can mean embracing advancements in on-farm technology that assist in measuring soil health, or using emerging data technologies like block-chain to assist in organic certificates to flow seamlessly through the supply chain.  It can mean developing new processing techniques that eliminate the need for a food processing additive on the national list, or using virtual communication tools to improve the outreach and effectiveness of organic education and training.  I hope we continue to embrace innovation as part of solutions across the supply chain from farmer to consumer.

David Lively, Pioneer Emeritus, Organically Grown Company (new photo)
Board Chair, Community Relations Committee

Embrace Innovation. As the Organic Trade Association and similarly concerned forces face a rapidly changing landscape, increasingly critical environmental challenges and a larger and more diverse (yet often consolidated) roll call of participants, I believe we must keep our pioneers and visionaries engaged while embracing those whose sight lines may lead beyond the structures and policies we work within today. Can, and if so how, does organic evolve?  If we are to respect the grounded balance that natural systems demonstrate to us, we must advance our deliberations with respect and acknowledgement of not only that we disagree on but where we find alignment as well. 

Britt Lundgren, Director of Organic & Sustainable Agriculture, Stonyfield Farm

Continuous Improvement. We know that organic agriculture is already doing great things to improve soil health and advance soil carbon sequestration, but we also know there is an opportunity to do even more here.  With the wins we had for organic research funding in the 2018 Farm Bill and the launch of the GRO Organic, we are well positioned to advance research, policies, and tools that will help our community move forward with the opportunity for organic agriculture to serve as a part of the solution to climate change.

Mike Menes, V.P. Food Safety & Technology, True Organic Products
Chair, Organic PAC

The Bold Steps provide framework to help shape how decisions are made. Because there is a bit of overlap when applying the Bold Steps to ideas, I find it challenging to choose just one to focus on to be excited about. My interest for this year continues to be on protecting the USDA Organic seal through the lens of organic integrity. I will continue to support programs and advocate initiatives that ensures consumers get organic. Through innovation and planning, we will be able to formulate solutions that will result in improvement.

Mark Squire, President, Good Earth Natural Foods

Last year the Organic Trade Association did amazing work lobbying for a farm bill that protects organic integrity and dramatically increases funds for organic research, helping all those selling organic foods. Now I am excited about the Bold Step to Focus on Solutions. I believe we can do better at communicating the gains that we achieve to the greater organic community and engaging parts of the organic community that may feel left out of decisions. I believe these moves will make us much stronger and more unified as an organic force. Organic offers so many solutions we don't have time to argue among ourselves about the details.

Leslie Zuck, U.S.  General Manager, Ecocert ICO 

Bold Step Advocate for Continuous Improvement jumps right out at me. As a certifier and organic farmer, I and my colleagues have worked  to ensure integrity and improve enforcement throughout the organic certification system, even before the USDA National Organic Program began. Our trade association continues to be a leader in our sector-wide, collaborative effort to protect and strengthen organic standards on all fronts. In fact, this is a key issue critical for consumer confidence that unites our diverse and sometimes divided organic community. All of us have a responsibility to tirelessly support sound and sensible organic standards to sustain the health of our community, our world and future generations. Whether we are a business, non-profit, farmer or consumer, we can all do little things that make big things happen. //