New alliance formed to boost food organic interests and policy

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags National organic program Organic food

Strengthening the organic industry’s national public policy effectiveness to benefit the entire sector is the aim of a new strategic alliance between the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and California Certified Organic Farmers Inc. (CCOF).

An OTA spokesperson told “In the current budgetary climate, there is growing importance for organic producers in advocating together on federal legislative issues that affect the organic sector.”

Partnership between the two organizations will focus on increasing the representation of organic producers in federal legislative advocacy. As part of the agreement, OTA recognizes CCOF Inc. as a member of its new Producers Advisory Council.

Federal policy-makers

The council provides OTA with input from organic farmers, ranchers, and growers on matters relevant to advancing organic agriculture. The organisation has a permanent office in Washington, D.C. in order to help promote the organic industry to federal policy-makers.

Top of the alliance’s agenda at federal level are the budgetary constraints challenging Congress. “In recent years, the National Organic Program began to get some of the funding need for staffing to make the program more effective​,” said the spokeswoman.

Also, under the 2008 Farm Bill, the organic sector started to gain access to programs that were long overdue such as money allocated for organic research, organic data collection, conservation money for the organic sector and money to help transition farmers to organic production​.”

As hearings begin to discuss the next (2012) Farm Bill, the spokeswoman said: “ It will be very important for the organic sector to work together to show the importance organic agriculture plays in the United States, to rural communities and to farmers and to the economy in general​.”

OTA has pledged to support CCOF on its policy positions and political advocacy to protect and encourage organic food and agriculture in the state of California.

In a joint statement, Christine Bushway, OTA’s executive director and CEO, and Will Daniels, chair of CCOF’s Board of Directors, wrote: “This important collaboration enhances the resources and capacity needed to grow and protect US organic agriculture in the current fast-changing political environment.

“As the two leading organic agriculture and trade associations in the United States, we will work together, while remaining independent organizations to leverage the collective reach of our diverse memberships.”

Organic businesses

California is the nation’s leading state for organic agriculture with more than 470,000 acres in certified organic production. Bushway commented: “Now, OTA will bring the voice of over 6,500 organic businesses, more than 2,500 from California alone, to official Washington. Together we will advance organic​.

Excluded from the new agreement are Domestic National Organic Program standards and areas covered under CCOF Certification Services LLC accreditation.

OTA represents more than 6,500 organic businesses across 49 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others.

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