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Organic activities at Expo East a rousing success for OTA and the industry

Events included equivalency signing, annual meeting, awards and more

Barbara Haumann
(802) 275-3820
Washington , DC
September 30, 2013
) — 

Organic activities organized by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) at Natural Products Expo East this past week brought members together to celebrate, mark milestones, discuss trends, and hear from leaders about a wide range of topics related to organic agriculture, markets and trade.

“From witnessing the signing of an historic organic equivalence arrangement with Japan to hearing our members share their priorities for the future at our Annual Meeting, our organic-related activities offered an exciting, jam-packed time for the Organic Trade Association and its members,” said Laura Batcha, OTA’s Executive Vice President.

The announcement of organic equivalence between Japan and the United States this past Thursday marked a first with Asia and the third for the United States. Under its provisions certified organic products as of Jan. 1, 2014, can move freely between the United States and Japan. It is expected to reopen the important Japanese consumer market for U.S. organic producers of all sizes, and will create jobs and opportunity for the U.S. organic food and farming sector.

Meanwhile, during OTA’s Annual Meeting, members had the opportunity to meet OTA’s new Board of Directors now headed by Melody Meyer of UNFI. Other officers were also present: Sarah Bird of Annie’s Inc., Vice President—USA; Ian Walker of Left Coast Naturals, Vice President—Canada; Leslie Zuck of Pennsylvania Certified Organic, Secretary; and Tony Bedard of Frontier Natural Products Co-op, Treasurer.

In an inspirational Organic Leadership Awards celebration, OTA and attendees honored Arran and Ratana Stephens of Nature’s Path Foods with the Growing Organic Industry Award, Kyle Mathison of Stemilt Growers with the Organic Farmer of the Year Award, and Karen and Colin Archipley of Archi’s Acres/VSAT with the Rising Star Award.

OTA members also had the opportunity to meet with high-level government officials at the OTA Member Lounge in a roundtable discussion with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator Anne Alonzo and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service Administrator Phil Karsting. All of this, and more, took place in conjunction with impressive educational lineup of 13 conference sessions on topics of interest to farmers, manufacturers, retailers, certifiers, marketers, and organic advocates.

Among the sessions were several on a proposed Organic Research and Promotion Program, and a discussion led by The Organic Center concerning potential research priorities for the sector.

In addition, OTA had a full house for its Organic Political Action Committee (Organic PAC) fundraiser at a ballgame at Camden Yards.

“Overall, there were thought-provoking discussions that occurred, through Member Forums, conference sessions, and visits at OTA’s Booth. We are pleased that our activities were not only successful, but fruitful for the membership, and encourage all to view some of the photos we have put together to try to capture some of the excitement generated during this year’s organic activities organized by OTA,” Batcha added.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. OTA is the leading voice for the organic trade in the United States, representing over 6,500 organic businesses across 49 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA's mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy.