CCOF and Oregon Tilth, two of the nation’s leaders in the organic movement and certification, have announced plans to merge. Together, the two organizations, as CCOF Tilth, will strengthen the visibility and voice of organic, one of the fastest growing sectors of U.S. agriculture. Membership of both organizations will be asked to ratify the merger before October 31, 2012.
“Both Oregon Tilth’s and CCOF’s origins date back to the 1970s amidst growing interest in the benefits of organic farming,” says Chris Schreiner, Executive Director of Oregon Tilth. “We both have deep roots in the organic movement.”
“The merger will create the strongest mission-driven certification program in the country,” says CCOF Executive Director Cathy Calfo, “supported by a trade association of nearly 4,000 certified farmers, ranchers, and processors, and a robust educational foundation.”
The two organizations have a long history of collaboration. During the 1980s, CCOF and Oregon Tilth formed the Western Alliance of Certifying Organizations to ensure integrity and consistency in organic certification. In the 1990s, the two nonprofits helped form the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), which determines if input products are allowed for use in organic production and processing.
During the past decade, organically grown products have become the fastest growing sector in agriculture as consumers have become more concerned about how their food is grown and processed. Sales of organic products have increased annually by as much as 20% and represent a $31 billion sector of the agricultural industry.
Farmers and food processors who currently use CCOF or Oregon Tilth labels on their product will be allowed to continue to do so; however, a new CCOF Tilth label will be released this fall.