The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has formally established a Farmers Advisory Council to provide input from small- to medium-sized organic farmers, ranchers and growers to the trade association on matters geared to advancing organic agriculture.
“One of OTA’s Core Values is the understanding that organic farms are the foundation of the organic industry. This advisory council will give organic farmers a vehicle to influence OTA’s policy and advocacy work,” says Perry Clutts of Pleasantview Farm, who holds the first designated Farmer Seat on OTA’s current board of directors and co-chairs the council.
Making up the new advisory council will be active farmers of small and medium-size operations serving as representatives of sector, state and regional organic farming organizations. CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) is a founding member of the advisory council, with CROPP Cooperative and the Organic Egg Farmers of America also signing on board. Other organizations will be encouraged to join.
“Our new Farmers Advisory Council institutionalizes the farmer’s voice in all OTA does to grow and protect U.S. organic agriculture in the fast-changing political environment,” says Matt McLean of Uncle Matt’s Organic, a fourth-generation citrus grower and president of OTA’s Board of Directors. He noted that while OTA’s membership has always represented the entire value-chain for organic, including farmers, this formal step makes that commitment clear.
The OTA Farmers Advisory Council (FAC) has been designed to formalize and improve two-way communication between OTA and organic producers. Through dialog and upfront input, FAC gives organic farmers a voice to directly influence OTA’s policy work, and allows OTA to better represent the diversity of organic producers in its policy and advocacy work. Service eligibility defines a farmer as someone who owns, leases or is a partner in an organic farm, has a full-time functional role as an organic farmer and derives his or her primary income from an organic farm.
Interested organic farmers and organic farming sector, state and regional organic farming organizations should contact OTA’s executive vice president Laura Batcha.