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State agricultural directors hosted by the Organic Trade Association

OTA stresses role of organic for states

Maggie McNeil
(202) 403-8514
Washington , DC
September 12, 2014
) — 

Organic Trade Association Executive Director and CEO Laura Batcha told the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Friday that organic farming is in all states, and that state directors of agriculture who care about jobs and vitality should care about organic.

Organic is no longer a niche industry, said Batcha, noting that the organic sector reported over $35 billion worth of sales last year, a new record. Organic means “real production and real business” in every state, she said.

Batcha pointed out that the 2014 Farm Bill provides the tools to expand organic agriculture, and urged the state agricultural officials to get the word out to their constituents to take advantage of these new tools to increase organic production and meet growing demand for organic, both here and abroad. Export opportunities for organic are robust, and all states have something to offer to satisfy the global appetite, said Batcha.

Batcha spoke at an OTA-hosted organic breakfast for the state agriculture directors, who have been meeting in Burlington, Vermont, for the last three days to discuss key national agricultural policy issues and to network with agricultural stakeholders.

The theme of the annual conference, hosted by NASDA President and Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Charles Ross, was “Ag Literacy.”

Ross said this is a “pivotal period” for American agriculture: “Less than 2% of the population makes a living farming or ranching,” said Ross. “Given this divide, the opportunity for misunderstanding is immense…We must work together to create a culture of what I like to refer to as ‘Ag Literacy,’ an appreciation and understanding of where food and fiber comes from, and how farming and ranching work.”

Batcha said that organic agriculture, with its transparency and its goal to educate the public about the origin of its food and non-food products, is in sync with Ross’s goals, observing that organic consumers are increasingly seeking out more information about where their food comes from and how it was raised.

The all-organic breakfast, donated entirely by OTA members, featured organic products from New England farms, including eggs from Pete & Gerry’s and maple syrup and maple sugar from Coombs Family Farms. It also displayed the diversity of organic with a wide offering of products from national organic brands from all corners of the United States – bacon from Applegate, blueberry pancakes and raw honey from Cadia, potatoes from Earthbound Farm, fresh berries from Driscoll’s, yogurt from Stonyfield, granola from Nature’s Path, breakfast bars from Clif Bar, juices from Santa Cruz Organic, and milk and butter from Organic Valley.

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 organic trade in the United States, representing over 6,500 organic businesses across the nation. 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.