OTA’s Members: From farm to consumer, and all steps in-between

 One of OTA’s strongest assets as an organization is the diversity and breadth of its membership.

Unlike many trade associations, OTA is uniquely structured to include the full value chain for the organic industry, ensuring that all sectors from farm to the consumer have a strong voice within OTA. OTA brings farmers and growers, ingredient suppliers, processors, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and others—consultants, brokers, certifiers, those in international trade, other associations and media—together to promote and protect the growing organic sector.

In this way, it is possible to work together to catalyze solutions, form coalitions and collaborate, whether it be on issues before Congress and government agencies, or to strategize on strengthening the organic message and movement to the public. OTA represents its members to government on sector needs, market development and promotion, and strong organic standards and regulations. Members also receive the latest information and quick answers on organic regulations and standards in the U.S. and around the world.

During 2015, OTA membership grew by 4%. There was substantial membership growth in the farmer/rancher/grower/ producer category. In fact, those describing themselves as farmers, ranchers, growers and producers represented 34.4 percent of new members gained during 2015. Much of this growth can be linked to the recently established Farmers Advisory Council.

OTA also added two new councils—Fiber and Grains, Oilseeds & Pulses—which the trade association envisions will attract additional members in the coming months.

During 2015, OTA gained 179 new members. New member revenue made up 82 percent of the membership dues income increase in 2015.

At the start of 2016, businesses in the food sector represented 85 percent of members and paid 94.5 percent of total dues revenue. Non-food businesses (including fiber and personal care) made up 15 percent of members and paid 5.5 percent of total dues revenue.

Working together on critical issues and growing the organic industry are all part of our work together. It all fits in with OTA’s mission, to promote and protect ORGANIC with a unifying voice that serves and engages its diverse members from farm to marketplace.

Taking the pulse of our diverse membership

A message from OTA Board Community Relations Committee Chair,
Samantha Cabaluna

Every two years, OTA fields a survey of its members to see how they feel about the work and direction of their trade association. OTA conducted its latest survey at the end of 2015 with over 20% of members taking the time to tell us what they think.

The good news: the survey results reflect strong member engagement, a high level of overall satisfaction, and general agreement with OTA’s priorities. Members indicated that OTA should emphasize protecting the integrity of organic standards, influencing national legislation, and developing long-term strategies to set the stage for industry growth. It is gratifying to see that all three of these areas align with OTA current programming areas of emphasis.

Members said they join OTA to support the organic industry and to stay up to date on information affecting the sector. Survey respondents placed the highest value on OTA’s government affairs work, OTA news and information resources, and access to staff experts.

Members who said they participate in OTA policy-setting task forces, sector councils and issue working groups noted that they benefit by receiving updates directly and better understand views from different sectors.

The bottom line: members view OTA as an inclusive organization where diverse stakeholders all benefit from the core work that OTA does in regulatory and legislative advocacy and media and public relations.