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Task Forces

 
Task forces make recommendations to OTA on policy issues, association programs and special projects. OTA has many active task forces with dozens of members working on everything from commenting on FDAs Food Safety Rule revisions to analyzing Mexico’s Operating Guidelines for Organic Agriculture. 
 
All of OTA Task Forces are time-bound (not necessarily short-term), task-charged, and outcome-focused groups with specific mandate statements. Task forces can be convened by the board, staff, or members (e.g. through Member Forums or Sector Councils) in order to recommend a course of action or accomplish a specific objective. Task Forces form to:  
  • gather input on specific programs, issues, new initiatives, or overall strategic planning 
  • convene an advisory group that would recommend a course of action to either the board or staff 
  • consider a narrow subject within a broader topic area 
  • focus attention and recommend service for a particular sector of the organic industry      
  • accomplish a specified project/task, as needed, using OTA and/or participants volunteer time.  

Open Task Forces

Animal Welfare Task Force

In response to USDA’s request for comments, OTA convened a task force to analyze the National Organic Program’s proposed rule. The mandate of the task force is to assist OTA in developing comments to USDA- NOP on the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices proposed rule that will reflect the current perspectives of the organic livestock sector. The focus of the task force is to ensure that the specifics within the proposed rule accurately reflect NOSB recommendations, lend themselves to consistent implementation and enforcement by ACAs and USDA, and level the playing field for organic livestock and poultry producers across the nation.
 
Over the course of the past two months, task force subcommittees comprised of organic livestock operators representing eggs, broilers, beef, dairy, and swine along with accredited certifiers have met and discussed the proposed revisions and their impact on the organic sector. OTA thanks the member volunteers of the task force who helped develop OTA’s draft comments. OTA will continue to engage the task force in the development of our final comments and with any future subsequent draft guidance that may be associated with a final rule.

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Transitional Certification Task force

There has been significant discussion recently around the concept of an industry-led transitional certification program administered by USDA’s Process Verified Program (PVP).  A transitional certification has the potential to support producers through the significant task of transitioning their farms to organic by providing exposure to the certification process and organic regulations, access to USDA support programs for producers, and, potentially, premiums for their “certified transitional” crops. OTA's Transitional Certification Task Force will advise OTA on the benefits, principles, scope, and risks of such a program as we consider submitting an application for transitional certification to USDA. 

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'Natural' Food Labeling Task Force 

In response to consumers who have requested that it explore the use of the term ‘natural,’ FDA is asking for the public to provide information and comments on the use of this term in food labeling beginning November 12. OTA is forming a task force to shape its comments to submit to FDA on this issue. 

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National List Innovation Working Group

OTA is convening a National List Innovation Working Group for OTA members interested in investing in applied research to identify alternatives to inputs currently on the National List. Working Group participants will vary based on the discrete projects identified. Participants will be investors in the development of alternatives or by invitation of investors. The first project will be the development of organically grown celery or other vegetable used in the “curing” of organic meat products. 
 
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Origin of Livestock Task Force 

The National Organic Program (NOP)’s proposed rule on the Origin of Livestock is now available for comment in the Federal Register. The proposed rule will be open for public comment through July 27. OTA is putting together an Origin of Livestock Task Force to review the proposed rule. 
 
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Food Safety Task Force 

The mandate of this task force is to analyze the Food Safety Modernization Act proposed rules and ensure, through the public comment process, that they: 1)  accurately reflect the law (FSMA); 2) do not duplicate, or, contradict with organic methods and materials; and 3) do not cause undo burden to organic producers and handlers otherwise. 
 
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Citrus Greening Task Force 

The mandate of this task force is to address the impact of citrus greening on the organic sector. OTA is engaging researchers, along with federal and state officials to gain acceptance of management techniques used by organic growers nationwide.
 
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Canadian-U.S.Equivalency Task Force

The mandate of this task force is to focus on monitoring, analyzing, and discussing emerging issues from organic equivalency discussions between the U.S. and Canada. Task force members help to communicate with the U.S. and Canadian governments, and seek to enhance the understanding of equivalency negotiations within the industry.
 
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European Union-U.S. Equivalency Task Force

The mandate of this task force has evolved from direct involvement with the development of the U.S. / EU equivalency agreement to providing industry awareness, guidance regarding the implementation of the equivalency arrangement, and working to resolve issues that impact trade in accordance with the agreement.
 
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Mexican Organic Trade Task Force

Mexico issued revised organic guidelines for organic production in October of 2013.  The mandate of the Mexico Task Force is to evaluate and advise USDA, USTR and OTA on the implications and impact of these revisions on the free flow of organic trade across our mutual borders.
 
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Asia Working Group

The Asia Working Group focuses on existing and emerging organic trade issues in Asia.  This group is not a formal task force and relies on participation from members who are active or wish to be active in organic trade to Asia.
  • Korea - The Asia working group is very engaged in the ongoing organic equivalency discussions with Korea and is committed to reopening Korean markets for U.S. organic products
  • China - The working group remains vigilant to developments in China and is currently exploring how OTA might facilitate U.S. accreditation by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture
  • Taiwan – The working group is a communication channel with USDA and USTR and the American Institute for Trade regarding trade issues that develop at Taiwanese ports of entry, most notably regarding Taiwan’s zero tolerance for pesticide residues
  • India – OTA is working with U.S. dairy producers to gain access to Indian markets for U.S. dairy products.  Organic dairies are uniquely qualified to assure that organic dairy products are produced from cattle that have been fed vegetarian organic feed as required by the USDA National Organic Program standards for livestock production.
  • Japan -  As the market for organics in Japan continues to grow the Asia working group will provide industry guidance regarding the implementation of the equivalency arrangement, as well as working to resolve issues that impact trade in accordance with the agreement, discuss opportunities in the market, and strategize consumer education.
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Task Force Policies and Procedures Task Force Roles and Responsibilities Download Task Force Request Form Submit Task Force Request Form Online

 
OTA announces new task forces and opportunities to get involved in the weekly News Flash e-newsletter for members.

Contact
Operations Manager
(202) 403-8513
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