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Three organic stand-outs selected to receive Leadership Awards

Soil health expert, standards pioneer, and outstanding Millennial to be recognized

Maggie McNeil
(202) 403-8514
(202) 615-7997
Washington , DC
July 25, 2019
) — 

Three outstanding individuals in organic agriculture who will receive Organic Trade Association’s Leadership Awards this coming September have much in common: they are passionate about organic farming, visionary in their advocacy for strong organic standards, and active in passing on their excitement and knowledge to foster further growth in the sector.

This year’s award honorees are:

  • Israel Morales Sr., JV Farms Organic, Organic Farmer of the Year Award
  • Lynn Coody, Organic Agsystems Consulting, Growing the Organic Community Award
  • Nate Powell-Palm, Cold Spring Organics, Rising Star Award

Organic Farmer of the Year Award

Israel Morales Sr. is JV Farms Organic’s lead grower with over 40 years of farming experience. JV Farms Organic in Soledad, California, is committed to growing organic crops in an innovative and eco-friendly manner. Israel has extensive experience not just in knowing what produce matches the type of soil, but also other factors important to soil health. As ranch manager, he has direct influence on the growing practices on all of the acres in his operation. Described by peers as living and breathing organic farming, he has both an old-school mentality on how to grow organically while also a flare for innovation. A successful large-scale organic farmer, he is known as an excellent steward of land, minimizing disturbance, maximizing soil cover, maximizing biodiversity, and maximizing the presence of living roots. His primary focus is soil health, habitat diversity and reducing or eliminating organic pesticide use if he can. He has developed an innovative farming system using conservation tilllage beds that allows him to use cover crops on 80 to 90 percent of his acreage during the winter fallow.

Growing the Organic Community Award

Lynn Coody of Eugene, Oregon, has been active as a crucial voice on the organic front since the 1970s. First serving as general manager of an organic farm, in the ensuing decades she has provided invaluable technical assistance to growers, certifiers, producers and regulatory agencies at the local, state, regional, national and international levels. She was one of a three-person team who guided the development and passage of Oregon’s ground-breaking Organic Food Law in the late 1980s. Based on that experience, she served as technical advisor to Kathleen Merrigan (Aide to Senate Patrick Leahy) during the drafting of the federal Organic Foods Production Act and to Representative Peter DeFazio’s staff on the House version. She has been principal consultant at Organic Agsystems Consulting--her own technical assistance firm--since 1982, focusing primarily on education, standards development, management of quality systems for organic certification, advocacy and research. Described by peers as possessing vision, courage and know-how as a deft facilitator and leader, she is seen as a core expert who provides careful thought based on values of integrity and transparency, as well as good science, while always advocating for organic family farmers.

Rising Star Award

Nate Powell-Palm started farming when he was just 12 years old as part of a 4-H project, and used grants and other opportunities to develop and expand his cattle operation in Bozeman, Montana. Raising livestock according to organic standards, he applied for certification while still in high school. During college, he completed IOIA training, and started working as an organic inspector. Since graduation, he has expanded the farm into crop production while also growing his cattle enterprise. A Farmstead member of the Organic Trade Association through Montana Organic Association, he has been a regular participant in the trade association’s Policy Days, and is an effective spokesperson for organic agriculture in D.C. He is under age 30, and already has more than 15 years’ experience with organic production. This past April, he provided testimony regarding the economic opportunities for farmers through sustainable agricultural practices before the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food & Drug Administration, and related agencies. He has already proven to be a leader in organic agriculture, not just in Montana but on a broader national stage.

Highest Honor

The Organic Trade Association’s Annual Organic Leadership Award was established in 1997. Awardees are nominated by their peers and chosen unanimously by the association’s Board of Directors. A complete list of past honorees is featured on our website.

“Each year we look forward to recognizing those within the organic sector who have led with valuable contributions to help grow and expand organic agriculture and the products it markets. It is exciting to recognize outstanding farmers, where it all starts, and others along the organic value chain who play an instrumental role to further organic,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association.

The honorees will receive their leadership awards at a celebration dinner, September 11, at the Belvedere Hotel in Baltimore, MD, during Natural Products Expo East. For more information, visit the event web site.

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 9,500 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.