News from OTA's Organic Export Program
OTA was proud to take part in the World’s Fair in Milan, Italy, during October. The theme of this year’s international exposition was “Feeding the Planet. Energy for Life,” exploring the huge task of finding a balance between meeting the nutritional needs of the global population and respecting the planet.
As the damaging consequences of industrial agriculture on the environment, our soil and our health are becoming more apparent, organic is increasingly being sought out to be on the global stage as a relevant voice in this most important discussion.
In Milan, OTA put together four thought-provoking sessions for the international audience. Each included some of the most influential leaders in today’s agricultural and food systems, representing both the private and public sectors, and including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse and Anne Alonzo, Administrator of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. OTA looked at the role organic is playing in today’s world and its expected larger role in the future, the innovations and technology of organic farming, and some prevailing myths about organic and the facts to dispel those myths.
Here are the messages about organic that resonate on the global stage: organic is forward-looking, innovative and solution-driven; organic offers farmers around the world important ways to improve their livelihoods, boost farm income and alleviate rural poverty; organic allows farmers to engage in practices that meet some of the world’s greatest environmental issues—global warming, soil health, pollinator populations and more; and consumers are demanding more organic and causing conventional food companies to catch up to what organic has done for decades—make foods without artificial flavorings and colorings, take out GMO ingredients, and go organic.
Among the OTA-led sessions was one on “Women Leading the Organic Way “spotlighting four influential organic leaders representing more than 70 years of food activism. Panelists were Anne Alonzo (Administrator for USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service), OTA’s Executive Director/CEO Laura Batcha, farmer and agricultural entrepreneur Ariane Lotti, and Liz Neumark, founder and CEO of Great Performances & Katchkie Farm. In the two hour session, they talked about their unique career paths and what they envision for the future of food and the planet: a bigger role for organic in the effort to feed the world in a sustainable way, growing opportunities for entrepreneurs in the world of organic, and consumers who know where they food comes from and how it was produced. //