OTA seeks new CEO as Laura Batcha prepares to step down after fostering strong growth, engagement across the organic value chain

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Getty/ Hinterhaus Productions
Source: Getty/ Hinterhaus Productions

Related tags Organic trade association

After leading the Organic Trade Association as CEO for 13 years, Laura Batcha will step down next spring – leaving a legacy of savvy political acumen and active member engagement that helped the trade group expand the reach, impact, awareness and sales of organic.

During her tenure at OTA, which began in 2008 as director of marketing and public relations before taking the helm as CEO and executive director in January 2014, the organic industry has grown tremendously with annual US retail sales nearing $62b in 2020 – up from $43.3b in 2015.

This is due in part to Batcha’s efforts to elevate organic’s visibility in the US and globally. Under her guidance, the trade group established its DC office and government relations arm, through which it organized routine ‘fly-ins’ – bringing stakeholders from across the country and value chain to meet with legislators and policy advocates.

Among the top policy and legislative priorities that Batcha helped spearhead in recent years includes progress towards decarbonizing the economy​ as it intersects with agriculture and energy,  ensuring follow through of recommendations​ by the National Organic Standards Board, , efforts to better detect and prevent fraud​, funding to help farmers transition to organic, full funding for the Organic Data Initiative and additional funding or the Organic Research and Extension Initiative​.

Overcoming obstacles

Batcha’s tenacity also helped OTA quickly pivot when faced with unexpected political roadblocks, such as when the US Department of Agriculture under the Trump Administration pulled the plug on plans to implement a federally mandated organic check-off program​, which had been in the works for years and had near universal industry support, according to the trade group.

Within months of USDA announcing without consultation that that the check-off program would no longer go forward, OTA under Batcha’s leadership began exploring a voluntary, industry-vested research, promotion and education ‘check-off like’​ program – illustrating Batcha’s and the organization’s dedication as well as her commitment to involving members through a hands on approach.

Likewise, when a final rule elevating animal welfare standards within the organic industry was withdrawn without warning by the Trump Administration after its passage during the 11th​ hour of the Obama Administration, Batcha and OTA did not roll over. Rather, they litigated for years against USDA ​to see the final Organic Livestock and Poultry Production regulation reinstated.

The next leader

Next on Batcha’s list is helping the global organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry and an OTA search committee find her replacement – a role that will require working closely with OTA’s board of directors and member companies to define the associations mission, establish shared objectives and be the face of the organic industry.

Interested individuals can learn more about the opportunity, and apply by Nov. 29 HERE​.

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