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Produce Council Annual Report

The Organic Trade Association’s Produce Council is a community of diverse stakeholders across the organic produce value chain that convenes on issues of importance to the organic produce sector. The Council amplifies the needs of the produce community within the Organic Trade Association and serves as a venue for shared learning and advancing outcomes to support a thriving and resilient organic produce sector.

PRODUCE COUNCIL ACTIVITY IN 2020
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Produce Council Activity 2020

The Produce Council is one of the Organic Trade Association’s newest councils. Its formation was driven by the leading produce members’ desire for the sector to collaboratively work together across the value chain to address urgent challenges, while taking advantage of the association’s deep knowledge and expertise in organic and influencing the overall agenda of the association. 

Produce members first convened in the early months of the pandemic to discuss how COVID-19 was impacting the organic produce sector, from how to keep workers safely socially distanced and maintain planting and harvesting schedules to keeping processing lines filled and store deliveries on time. Members convened again in September to further explore the possibility of formalizing a sector council in order to facilitate ongoing collaboration among the produce members.

In response to the enthusiastic membership support, the trade association’s Board of Directors unanimously approved the establishment of an Organic Produce Council. The Council held its first official meeting in December with 29 founding members. 

OTA’s public announcement of the new Produce Council was celebrated throughout the organic community, including a write-up in the Organic Produce Network newsletter.

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LOOKING AHEAD

A top priority for the Council in its first year is to promote diversity of council membership to ensure that the council is representative of the diversity of the organic produce value chain to cover a range of diversity metrics, such as supply chain role, type of production system, type of produce, geographic footprint. The council will evaluate the current representation and recruit members from underrepresented areas to ensure that the Council’s voice is truly representative of the diversity of the organic produce sector.

The Council has also identified several areas of focus to address in its early years. These topics will be prioritized and advanced through the establishment of working groups where dedicated members can take a deeper dive on specific issues and explore opportunities for cross-communication with other OTA councils and task forces with related workstreams.

AREAS OF FOCUS IN 2021 INCLUDE:

Looking Ahead
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Strengthening Organic Enforcement

Support successful implementation of the forthcoming Strengthening Organic Enforcement final rule within produce sector with a particular focus on imports and labeling.

Strengthening Organic Enforcement
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Food Safety

Identify and resolve incompatibility of food safety rules with organic regulations,  farming practices and approved inputs

Food Safety
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International Trade

Identify international trade issues and concerns unique to fresh produce imports and exports

International Trade
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Workforce Safety

Identify opportunities to support agricultural workforce safety and availability

Workforce Safety
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Organic Seed and Planting

Support development of organic seed and planting stock and advocate for NOP to advance rulemaking for continuous improvement in using organic seeds

Organic Seed and Planting
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Consumer Education

Develop consumer education resources on the benefits and value of organic produce.

Consumer Education
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JOIN OUR COUNCIL MEMBERS
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CURRENT MEMBERS

Ag. Valles del Sur SpA, Agriculture Capital, Awe Sum Organics, Inc., Bejo Seeds, Inc., Bolthouse Farms, Bridges Organic Produce, Cal-Organic/Grimmway Farms, Charlie’s Produce, Columbia Marketing International Inc., Driscoll’s, Inc., Duncan Family Farms LLC, Earl’s Organic Produce, Heath & Lejeune, Inc., Homegrown Organic Farms, Jacobs Farm / Del Cabo, Inc., Munger Farms LLC, Naturipe Farms, NS Brands Ltd. DBA ArtiSun Farms, Organic Produce Network, Organically Grown Company, Page’s Organics, PCC Community Markets, Superior Fresh, LLC, Taylor Farms, Thermiculture Management, LLC, Todd Linsky Consulting, Vitalis Organic Seeds, Viva Tierra Organic, Inc., Wholesum Family Farms, Inc.

COUNCIL OFFICERS

The Organic Trade Association’s Produce Council is chaired by Ben Diesl of Grimmway Farms/Cal-Organic. Todd Linsky of Todd Linsky Consulting serves as Vice Chair and Ricardo Crisantes of Wholesum Family Farms, Inc.. serves as Secretary. The Produce Council is supported by OTA’s Farm Policy Director Johanna Mirenda.

HOW TO JOIN

The Organic Trade Association’s Produce Council is open to OTA members that participate in or otherwise support the value chain for organic produce. The Council’s primary focus is organic fresh market fruits and vegetables. Other specialty crops with shared interest in produce sector issues such as crop production, perishability, or other supply chain issues may also be included. Organic Trade Association members falling within the defined membership scope of the Council may contact our Farm Policy Director Johanna Mirenda to learn more and join.