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Organic Trade Association showcases American organic at Milan World’s Fair

OTA program at international show highlights organic visionaries, technology, and mission

Maggie McNeil
(
mmcneil@ota.com
(202) 403-8514
(202) 403-8415
)
Washington , DC
US
 (
October 12, 2015
) — 

The four women leading the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) event at the Milan World’s Fair on Thursday represented more than 70 years of food activism—a senior government official in charge of the marketing of billions of dollars of U.S. agricultural products daily and whose massive agency also oversees the U.S. organic program, an organic visionary now heading the foremost organic trade group in America, a former D.C.-based food and agricultural policy expert turned organic farmer in Italy, and a foodservice entrepreneur who founded the first catering company in New York to own and operate its own organic farm.

The Milan exposition marked the first time for OTA to participate in a World’s Fair, or International Exposition as the event was known when the inaugural one was held in London in 1851. In one of a group of discussions OTA led at the international show, OTA spotlighted the four influential organic leaders for its “Women Leading the Organic Way” session.

Panelists were Anne Alonzo, Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); Laura Batcha, Executive Director and CEO of OTA; Ariane Lotti, farmer and agricultural entrepreneur; and Liz Neumark, Founder and CEO of Great Performances & Katchkie Farm.
 
For an absorbing two hours, the panelists talked about their unique paths that led them to the rooftop terrace of the USA Pavilion and what they envision for the future of food and the future of the planet. A bigger role for organic in the effort to feed the world in a sustainable way, growing opportunities for entrepreneurs—and women in particular—in the world of organic, and consumers who know where their food comes from and how it was produced were seen on the horizon.
 

“If we are thinking about feeding the world, we have to think about it holistically and work towards a broad solution. The experiences represented on this panel show that women are not afraid to do the work required for that change,” said Lotti, who is beginning this year to transition her 1,000 acre farm in Italy, Tenuta San Carlo, to organic. "Organic agriculture provides opportunities to help manage the many climate and market risks in farming, and is one of the best tools for achieving sustainable food production."

“The next generation is making their voices heard, and they’re demanding a sustainable path to the table. The critical role that organic producers and supporters play in determining food security for the future of our planet has been never more apparent than during today’s discussion,” said Neumark. She said being an early adopter of organic in food service at Great Performances and establishing a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at her organic Katchkie Farm has enabled her to contribute to the goal of a sustainable food system.

Panelists also encouraged young people everywhere to consider a vocation in organic agriculture, or the organic sector beyond the farm. “Organic creates real opportunities for entrepreneurs…There is much more opportunity and diversity in agriculture now than just a decade ago,” said OTA’s Batcha.

Batcha also noted the positive life-changing possibilities that organic offers to current farmers: “Organic has proven to be more profitable than conventional agriculture, and it offers important ways to improve the livelihood of farmers around the world. Organic increases farm income and helps eliminate rural poverty, which is a critical cause of hunger in many parts of the world.”

The U.S. government has pledged to help foster more organic agriculture, said Alonzo. “USDA is committed to supporting organic agriculture in the global marketplace and providing all organic producers and businesses with the tools and services they need to succeed,” she said. “Through these efforts, USDA proactively supports and partners with the Organic Trade Association, and I am honored to share our work on a global stage at the USA Pavilion at the World Expo.” 

This year’s expo, whose theme is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” explores the huge challenge of finding a balance between meeting the nutritional needs of the global population and respecting the planet. The six-month show, which comes to a close on Oct. 31, has featured food and agricultural technology and innovations from more than 140 participating countries, and has attracted over 20 million visitors from around the world.

“Organic has always looked forward and has always been committed to producing the most healthy food in a way that sustains the environment. American organic is redefining food and farming, and we wanted to showcase those successes at this global venue,” said Monique Marez, Associate Director of International Trade for OTA.

The theme of the USA Pavilion was “American Food 2.0: United to Feed the World.” The American pavilion showcased the U.S. not only as an innovator in the food sector, but also in many aspects of culture, science and business.

OTA participated in three other key discussions at the exposition:

  • On Wednesday, OTA conducted a discussion on “Organic AgTech: Exploring the Intersection of Organic Agriculture and Technology.” Panelists included Julie Versman, Director of Global Business Development for Marrone Bio Innovations. Marrone is a leading provider of bio-based pest management and crop materials that control pests and improve yields in the least toxic and most environmentally sustainable ways.
  • On Friday, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse, OTA’s Batcha and other panelists participated in “Agricultural Innovation – Planting the Seeds for a Sustainable Future.”
  • Also on Friday, OTA’s Marez led the session on “15 Organic Myths, Busted in 15 Minutes or Less” in which she presented the facts about organic and explained away 15 myths … in 15 minutes.

From Milan, OTA will travel to Cologne, Germany, to participate in the Anuga Food Show, the largest food trade show of 2015, which will be held from Oct 10 – 14. There, OTA will host an all-organic pavilion where it will promote an array of American organic products.

OTA is an official cooperator in USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) to promote U.S. organic products abroad. 


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 8,500 organic businesses across 50 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 ORGANIC with a unifying voice that serves and engages its diverse members from farm to marketplace.

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