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Conference Schedule



This year's keynote line-up is taking shape! A number of agency leaders and government officials will share their perspectives on the critical issues confronting U.S. agriculture and its growing organic sector. 





Media Breakfast
(by invitation)
Room 702
8:15am  Registration Opens
Light refreshments
Room 705

Morning Keynotes

9:00-11:00am Welcome
Melissa Hughes, OTA Board President
Main stage

State of the Organic Industry
Laura Batcha, OTA’s Executive Director / CEO

Main stage
  Good Food for All – Getting to 200 organic farms in Georgia
Alice Rolls, Executive Director Georgia Organics
Main stage
  The Honorable Jimmy Panetta
U.S. House of Representatives (CA-20)
Main stage

Organic preference defies demographic markers   
Cary Funk, Associate Director, Research. Pew Research 

Main stage

Morning Breakout Sessions


Global Organic Trade 2011-2016; Analyzing 5 years of data  
Monique Marez, Director of International Trade, OTA 


Networking Break

Room 709



Noontime Keynote

12:00-12:30pm The Honorable John Faso 
U.S. House of Representatives (NY-19)

Main stage

LUNCH 12:30-1:00pm

Afternoon Keynotes


Jayson Werth, Outfielder 
Washington Nationals

Main stage
  The Honorable Tim Ryan
U.S. House of Representatives (OH-13)     
Main stage
  Farm Bill Q&A
Kathleen Merrigan  

Main stage

Afternoon Breakouts


Big Ideas: Farm Bill Priorities and Organic Innovators


Networking Break

Room 702



Closing Session

3:45-5:30pm Organic Education in Washington Women's Correctional Facility 
Ed Tharp and Carrie Little    
Main stage
Building the Next Farm Bill:
Perspectives from Congressional Agriculture Leadership Staff 

Panel Discussion       
Main stage

Ray Starling
Special Assistant to the President for Agriculture, Trade and Food Assistance (invited)

Main stage

  Closing Remarks Main stage


The Honorable Jimmy Panetta | U.S. House of Representatives (CA-20)
Congressman Jimmy Panetta proudly serves California’s 20th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. First elected to Congress in 2016, he was sworn in as member of the 115th Congress on January 3, 2017.Congressman Panetta represents California’s Central Coast, a diverse and beautiful region covering all of Monterey and San Benito Counties and southern portions of Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties.

The Honorable John Faso | U.S. House of Representatives (NY-19)                       
John Faso was elected to represent the 19th District of New York in the United States Congress on November 8, 2016. The district encompasses all or part of eleven counties in the Capital Region, Hudson Valley, Catskills and Central New York regions of the Empire State. Rep. Faso has been appointed to the House Budget, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Agriculture committees.

The Honorable Tim Ryan | U.S. House of Representatives (OH-13)    
Tim Ryan is a relentless advocate for working families in Ohio's 13th District. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002 and was sworn in on January 3, 2003. Successfully reelected seven times, he is now serving in his eighth term. Congressman Ryan currently serves as a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee which controls the expenditure of money by the federal government.    

Ray Starling, Special Assistant to the President for Agriculture, Trade and Food Assistance
Ray Starling is Special Assistant to the President for Agriculture, Trade and Food Assistance in the Trump Administration. Most recently serving as Chief of Staff for Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), Starling also served as Senator Tillis’ Chief Counsel and was then-Speaker Tillis’ General Counsel and Agriculture Advisor in the North Carolina General Assembly. He has also been the General Counsel for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. He grew up on a farm in Eastern North Carola. 

Kathleen Merrigan | George Washington University                      
Dr. Kathleen Merrigan is the Executive Director of Sustainability at the George Washington University, where she leads the GW Sustainability Collaborative, GW Food Institute, and serves as Professor of Public Policy. She was Deputy Secretary and COO of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (2009-2013), where she led the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative to support local food systems, was a key architect of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, and was the first woman to chair the Ministerial Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Jayson Werth, Outfielder | Washington Nationals         
Washington Nationals’ outfielder Jayson Werth will be a keynote speaker at this year’s Policy Conference. There, the World Series champion and D.C. hometown hero will discuss his passion for organic food, and the ongoing investment he has made in organic farmland in his home state of Illinois.

Cary Funk |  Associate Director, Research. Pew Research
Cary Funk is a co-author of The Politics of Climate and The New Food Fights: U.S. Public Divides Over Food Science and U.S. Public Wary of ‘Enhancing’ Humans. She is a survey researcher with broad expertise in political and social attitudes, including politics and elections, race and ethnicity, and religion and U.S. politics.

Laura Batcha | CEO/Executive Director, Organic Trade Association
Laura will welcome OTA members, government officials and top D.C. media to Organic Week and kick off Policy Conference with an unvieling of the latest U.S. organic industry growth and consumer behavior data. 

Member Day Meetings            Organic Confluences Summit            Loop the Lincoln with Clif Bar        


Angela Jagiello
Associate Director, Conference and Product Development 
(802) 275-3831