2021 OFA Elected Leadership

The following certified organic farmers and organic farm organizations were elected to fill open seats in their region for the Governing Council or Policy Committee.  The ballot closed November 15.  Their terms begin in March 2021.  Only OFA farm members have the right to vote on OFA decisions.  OFA policy is ONE FARM, ONE VOTE.  Each farm has an equal place at the table.

CALIFORNIA                      

Governing Council: Farmer
Judith Redmond, Full Belly Farm, Guinda, CA
Policy Committee: Farmer
Kenneth Kimes, Greensward / New Natives, LLC, Aptos, CA

MIDWEST   (Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania)                  

Governing Council: Farmer
Dave Bishop, PrairiErth Far, Atlanta, IL
Policy Committee: Farmer
Michael Adsit, Plymouth Orchards, Plymouth, MI
Policy Committee: Organization
Illinois Stewardship Alliance (ISA), Molly Gleason, Communications Director, Springfield IL

NORTH CENTRAL   (Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin)                           

Governing Council: Farmer
Mike Kelly, High Meadow Farm, Johnson Creek, WI
Governing Council: Organization
Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES): David Perkins, President, Spring Valley, WI
Policy Committee: Farmer
DeEtta Bilek, Tom & DeEtta Bilek Farm, Aldrich, MN

WEST   (Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas)                           

Governing Council: Farmer
Linley Dixon, Adobe House Farm, Durango, CO
Governing Council: Organization
Montana Organic Association (MOA): Becky Weed, Board of Directors, MT
Policy Committee: Farmer
Nathaniel Powell-Palm, Cold Springs Organics, Bozeman, MT
Policy Committee: Organization
Tilth Alliance: Melissa Spear, Executive Director, WA

SOUTH (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa)                        

Governing Council: Farmer
Shawn Peebles, Shawn Peebles Organic Farm LLC, Augusta, AR
Policy Committee: Farmer
Laura Freeman, Mt. Folly Farm, Winchester, KY
Policy Committee: Organization
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association: Roland McReynolds, Executive Director, NC

NORTHEAST   (New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware)                          

Governing Council: Farmer
Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht, Garden of Eve Organic Farm & Market, Riverhead, NY
Governing Council: Organization
Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance: Edward Maltby, Executive Director, Deerfield, MA
Policy Committee: Farmer
Luke Gianforte, Gianforte Farm LLC, Cazenovia NY

 

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California: GOVERNING COUNCIL 

Judith Redmond, Full Belly Farm, Guinda, CA

Bio/Statement: I have been a co-owner and farmer at Full Belly Farm since 1989. I also serve as an adviser to the California Climate and Agriculture Network, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, and as a Commissioner of the Capay Valley Volunteer Fire Department. With the diversity of livestock, produce and flowers that we raise here at Full Belly, we are constantly made aware of the importance of regulations and policy and how they strongly influence the viability and success of different kinds of

farms. People making policy and the public at-large do not understand on-the-ground challenges of farming. Through the work of OFA, organic farmers can build a stronger voice for themselves as part of reducing agriculture’s environmental footprint. Full Belly Farm is a certified organic, multi-generational farm founded in 1985. We enjoy cooking, eating, growing, harvesting and selling fruits, nuts and vegetables year-round. We also grow beautiful flowers and top off our activities caring for a herd of sheep and a flock of chickens. We make every effort to foster sustainability on many levels — from fertility in our soil and care for the environment, to creating a stable and respectful workplace for our employees. We attend farmers markets, have a CSA program and sell to many stores and wholesalers. We often invite our CSA members and customers to the farm and offer numerous events for people who want to learn more about organic agriculture and the farmers that grow their food. Through this work we hope to invigorate the agricultural economy and build the social well-being of the small communities in our Valley.

California: POLICY COMMITTEE 

Kenneth Kimes, Greensward / New Natives, LLC, Aptos, CA

Bio/Statement:  I have been farming greenhouse microgreens year-round for over 35 years and have always farmed organically (certified since 1982) and have only ever used organic seed (90k lbs. per year). We lobby the public to promote organic continuously at the farmers markets. My wife and I run the farm with ten full-time employees and five part-time employees. I have served on the Board of Directors for the following organizations: Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) (10+ years), Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau Board (6 years), Agriculture Policy Advisory Commission (10 years), Monterrey Bay Certified Farmers Markets, Action Pajaro Valley (farmland preservation task force), Santa Cruz County GMO Commission (we banned GMO's), and was on the Board of Directors for CCOF for many years.

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Midwest Region: GOVERNING COUNCIL 

Dave Bishop, PrairiErth Far, Atlanta, IL

Bio/Statement:  PrairiErth is a 300-acre farm with diverse crops and livestock and has been certified organic since 2004. With my family we also run the 100- acre farm where I grew up. Over these combined 400 acres, we grow organic corn, soybeans, oats, wheat, livestock forages, vegetables, fruit, and flowers and produce organic beef, pork, eggs and honey. We sell at local farmers’ markets and to restaurants and stores and offer a vegetable CSA and winter CSA. PrairiErth Farm has been participating in research with the University of Illinois for many years. Current research is studying the impact of various cover crop mixtures on weed suppression, soil microbial activity, and field productivity. We are passionate about growing organically, a system I adopted after years of conventional farming. I view organic farming as a way to limit our ecological footprint by caring for the earth, not just for us, but for future generations. We've reduced our farm “footprint” even further by using solar-powered pasture fencing and livestock watering systems. In addition to farming, I have lobbied in DC with NSAC for organic and local food issues, both in writing the farm bill and in the appropriations process. He currently serves as President of the Illinois Food, Farms, and Jobs Council, a Governor appointed entity created to advise the Governor and the Legislature on agricultural issues.

Midwest Region: POLICY COMMITTEE 

Michael Adsit, Plymouth Orchards, Plymouth, MI

Bio/Statement: I also served as a member of the founding OFA Steering Committee. During this time, serving OFA, I have spent a significant amount of time establishing communications with other organic farmers, promoting OFA to farmer interest groups and meeting with members of the Congress and Senate on behalf of OFA. I am committing to doing everything I can to represent and further the interests of organic farmers. My farm, Plymouth Orchards, is a 120-acre organic orchard and farm. We are also a regional agri-tourism destination. The farm was originally started in 1977. We grow organic apples, raspberries, asparagus, vegetables, small grains and hay. Plymouth Orchards is also certified as a processor for organic dried apples. Vegetables are marketed through a CSA. Fruits are direct marketed and wholesale. At Plymouth Orchards, I am responsible for organic crop production and marketing.

Organization 

Illinois Stewardship Alliance (ISA), Molly Gleason, Communications Director, Springfield IL

Bio/Statement:  I was raised on my family's 4th generation grain farm in Elkhart, Illinois and currently manage 63 acres of that farm. In the future, I hope to diversify our land into organic production. While my family farm does not currently use organic practices, my involvement with the farm provides a front-row seat to the issues involved with making the decision to transition to organic and all the challenges that entails, especially as it relates to generational transfer of farm management. In addition, my experience at Illinois Stewardship Alliance brings me into contact with direct-market fruit and vegetable growers on a regular basis, many of which use organic practices or who have gone through the certification process. I work with them to understand the barriers and opportunities facing local food producers, drive demand for local food, and shape and promote local food policy. I bring strong communications skills, community-organizing and coalition-building experience, and an in-depth knowledge of the food system. If elected, I would love to put these assets to work to raise the profile of organic farming, advance organic initiatives, and garner recognition for organic farming as more than a niche method of farming, but as a real and lasting solution to restore soils, feed communities, and build thriving local economies and ecosystems.  Illinois Stewardship Alliance (ISA) is a membership-based organization. We are an organization of local food producer, concerned citizen or food-systems related organization. Alliance members span the state and have one thing in common: they all care about the food that is produced and consumed in Illinois and want to support the increase of fresh, local foods.

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North Central Region: GOVERNING COUNCIL 

Mike Kelly, High Meadow Farm, Johnson Creek, WI

Bio/Statement:  My family and I started a Community Supported Agriculture program in 2009, and today raise certified organic veggies, poultry and sheep on our gorgeous, well-maintained 40-acre certified organic farm with the help of farm friends, volunteers and employees. Our CSA has over 200 members, we also sell wholesale accounts, and have workplace CSA relationships with local businesses. I served on the FairShare CSA Board of Directors and currently serve as a county supervisor with Jefferson County and on the Farmers Union water committee. Prior to farming, I had a career as a utilities superintendent. I am very interested in promoting organic agriculture and do that from my work on the farm and through my position as county supervisor.

Organization 

Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES): David Perkins, President, Spring Valley, WI

Bio/Statement: Educating farmers about organic and sustainable production is the foundation of our work. The cornerstone of this foundation is the annual MOSES Organic Farming Conference, the country’s largest conference on organic and sustainable farming, which draws 3,000+ people each February to La Crosse, Wis. We also educate farmers about specific farming practices through MOSES Organic Field Days and the MOSES Organic Answer Line. We manage several projects to support and empower organic farmers: Farmer-to-Farmer Mentoring Program, New Organic Stewards program, and our Rural Women’s Project. We also advocate for national policies that encourage organic production.

David Perkins currently serves as President of MOSES. David returned to his rural roots in 1994 to create Vermont Valley Community Farm located in southern Wisconsin. After a wonderfully successful 24 years of connecting thousands of people to their food, the CSA was retired in 2018. The farm continues its organic seed potato business. Committed to nurturing more CSA farms, David has spoken across the country on CSA, organic vegetable production and financial management. Certified organic since 1999, David is passionate about organic. He is the current Board President of Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services (MOSES) and served on the FairShare CSA Coalition Board, the Organic Farmers Association Board, and the UW- Madison Center for Integrated Agriculture Systems council.

North Central Region: POLICY COMMITTEE 

DeEtta Bilek, Tom & DeEtta Bilek Farm, Aldrich, MN

Bio/Statement:  My husband and I have owned and operated our 220-acre farm since 1977. We have been certified organic since 1998. On the farm we have crop production, graze beef cattle, and maintain forest. My primary role on the farm is the paperwork and help with overall management. My past experience with farm policy includes several opportunities to testify at Minnesota Legislature hearings and meetings with individual policy makers to share organic and sustainable agriculture information from a farmer perspective. I have attended two NOSB meetings and presented on behalf of OCIA International. At that time, I was a Board member and served one year as President of the Board. From 1997 - 2003, I was Program Manager for the Sustainable Farm Association of MN. From 2004 - 2016, I was Chair for the MN OCIA Chapter's Education Committee. I have also served on the MISA Certification Board of Directors and have participated on the Land Stewardship's Federal Farm Policy Committee.

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Western Region: GOVERNING COUNCIL 

Linley Dixon, Adobe House Farm, Durango, CO

Bio/Statement: Starting on rented land, over the past 10 years, our family has worked hard to build our farm business and finally purchase a farm on which we can live and continue to grow. This experience has exposed me to the challenges new organic farmers face to get started and succeed. I have a Masters in Plant and Soil Science and a PhD in Plant Pathology. My hope is that OFA can help ensure that USDA organic standards and enforcement continues to represent the values of the organic community and the way the vast majority of us farm, that is with the responsibility to maintain healthy soil and pasture. For the past ten years, we have farmed 3 acres of vegetables intensively in Durango, CO, with a prime focus on soil health. We direct market to local restaurants, SWFF Local Distribution Cooperative, James Ranch, and the Durango Farmers Market. Our specialties are soil-grown greenhouse tomatoes, salad greens, peppers and strawberries. Daily operations are managed by my husband, Peter Dixon, and brother, Reid Smith. I am the associate director of the Real Organic Project by day and tomato pruner extraordinaire by night.

Organization 

Montana Organic Association (MOA): Becky Weed, Board of Directors, MT

Bio/Statement: Montana Organic Association currently serves on the OFA Governing Council and will serve another term. Becky currently represents Montana Organic Association on the Governing Council and would like to serve another two-year term. Since 2002, The Montana Organic Association has been the voice of Montana's organic community. MOA believes that the organic movement is the one best hope for keeping small family farms viable while providing clean, nutritious, and safe food to the community; helping secure our food system by supporting farm diversity; and contributing to a healthier environment which helps protect our precious wildlife and natural resources. MOA's mission is to advocate and promote organic agriculture for the highest good of the people, the environment and the state's economy.

Becky Weed and her husband Dave Tyler have owned and operated Thirteen Mile Farm in Southwest Montana for thirty years (certified since 1999). They primarily run a certified organic grassfed sheep flock, although their operation has included a wool processing mill (2003-2017), as well as grassfed organic cattle and small-scale commercial vegetables intermittently. One of Becky’s employees is purchasing and continuing the wool mill, opening up time for Becky to return her focus more fully to her land, integrating crops and livestock, and to agriculture more broadly. Becky has served on the Montana Board of Livestock, and the boards of the Wild Farm Alliance, People and Carnivores, and has recently joined the board of the Montana Organic Association. She also served on the Conservation & Science Board of a very large ranch operation in Central Idaho, Lava Lake Land & Livestock, continuing her lifelong interest in the interface of agriculture and conservation. Before becoming involved in agriculture, Becky worked for more than ten years as a geologist with degrees in the Geological Sciences from Harvard (B.A.) and University of Maine (M.S.). That mixed background in research in some of the wildest places on earth, along with hazardous waste cleanup in some extremely urban locations continue to influence Becky’s perceptions and hopes for agriculture.

Western Region: POLICY COMMITTEE 

Nathaniel Powell-Palm, Cold Springs Organics, Bozeman, MT

Bio/Statement: I am a certified organic grain and beef cattle producer located in Bozeman, MT. As a first-generation farmer and rancher, I started my operation in 2004 and received organic certification in 2008. From my original leased 10 acres in 2004 my operation today consists of 875 acres on which I produce organic small grains and grass finished beef cattle. In addition to my farm, I work as an IOIA trained independent organic inspector. Currently contracted with 6 Accredited Certifying Agencies, I inspect approximately 225 operations per year. I have inspected organic operations to the NOP standard in 36 states for all three scopes (crops, livestock, and processing). I hold a BS in Environmental Science, with a focus on soil and water resources from Montana State University. My training as an agronomy researcher and my research history in soil chemistry has allowed me to hone a strong analytical skill set directly related to organic production agriculture. I believe my 9 years as a certified organic beef and grain producer has equipped me with significant technical expertise in organic production. My experience as an organic inspector has allowed me to examine operations and listen to the concerns of organic producers in every region of the country. If selected to serve on the Governing Council, I would bring both my expertise as a producer and broad experience as an organic inspector to my work with the OFA. Lastly, as a young farmer, I have experienced firsthand the challenges of starting a successful farming business and have spent most of my time farming certified organic. As the organic production community expands to include more and more young growers, I will bring a viewpoint and understanding to my work with the OFA that will align closely with a quick growing sector of the industry.

Organization 

Tilth Alliance: Melissa Spear, Executive Director, WA

Bio/Statement: Tilth Alliance works in community with Washington's farmers, gardeners and eaters for a more sustainable, healthy and equitable food future. Our strategic priorities include advancing organic, regenerative, and sustainable growing practices, to increase demand for healthy food grown in Washington using organic, regenerative and sustainable growing practices, and to raise awareness of the critical relationship between food production and climate change. Our membership base is composed primarily of certified organic farmers. We serve our base through advocacy at the state and county level, by providing training opportunities, by directly connecting organic farmers to consumers through the Washington Farm and Food Finder, and by producing an annual conference where organic farmers from Washington can convene to learn, network and socialize.

Melissa Spear has worked at the intersection of conservation and agriculture for the past 15 years. She started out at The Trust for Public Land, successfully protecting several iconic farms in Connecticut. She then spent 9 years as Executive Director of a non-profit organic urban farm and environmental education center serving the city of New Haven, CT. She served as the vice-chair of the Working Lands Alliance in Connecticut, an advocacy organization working to ensure farming remained a viable enterprise in the state. She moved to Seattle and became Executive Director of Tilth Alliance in 2018 where her focus is squarely on promoting and supporting the adoption of organic practices. Under her leadership, Tilth Alliance is leading the formation of a Coalition for Organic and Regenerative Agriculture that will advocate for organic farmers and farming practices both here in Washington and in Washington D.C.

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Southern Region: GOVERNING COUNCIL 

Shawn Peebles, Shawn Peebles Organic Farm LLC, Augusta, AR

Bio/Statement: Our farm is solely organic. I am a third-generation farmer. I started farming early with my dad and branched out on my own about 20 years ago. I switched to organic farming in 2009. We farm approximately 1500 acres. We grow sweet potatoes, edamame, black eye peas, soybeans, and corn. We find it exciting to find new crops to grow and diversify more each year. I handle some of each aspect that goes into a farming operation. I am hands on and fully involved in each decision that goes into the operation. I am currently serving on the USDA's Specialty Crop Committee. I have also served on a dicamba specialty task force. I enjoy speaking at meetings and conventions to share my knowledge and experience with others. I think organic farming is the future and want to see it grow. I will stand tall for my beliefs and advocate for what I believe in.

Southern Region: POLICY COMMITTEE 

Laura Freeman, Mt. Folly Farm, Winchester, KY

Bio/Statement: I own and run Mt. Folly Farm. Mt. Folly includes 1250 acres of pasture, timber, and crop land. About 70% of our crop and hay land is certified organic, making 290 organic acres and one organic high tunnel. I own and run the farm and have since 1982. I am also currently working to certify our cattle. I am also a climate change activist and farm entrepreneur, especially focused on hemp and heritage grains. Our farm is located in Kentucky, which has a nascent organic farming movement, so we are early adopters. Our core group is under 40, representing the future of farming. We are spreading the value of organics in the region by hosting multiple field days each year and connecting with our elected officials--introducing them to organic farming.

Organization 

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association: Roland McReynolds, Executive Director, NC

Bio/Statement: The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) is a farmer-driven, membership-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that helps people in North and South Carolina grow and eat local, organic food by advocating for fair farm and food policies, building systems that family farms need to thrive, and educating communities about local, organic agriculture. Founded in 1979, CFSA is the oldest and largest sustainable agriculture organization in the Southeast. We provide training and technical assistance to farmers on organic farming practices, including: consulting on organic high tunnel production of specialty crops; providing NRCS TSP services for farmers seeking CAP-138 plans (supporting organic transition); hosting numerous workshops throughout the year; running the only organic certified incubator farm in the Southeast, Lomax Farm in Concord, NC; conducting research on organic vegetable production practices at Lomax Farm and other farms; and hosting two annual conferences for organic farmers. We also conduct extensive policy advocacy on issues of importance to organic farmers in North and South Carolina, at the state and federal levels.

Roland Reynolds is an attorney and has served as the Executive Director of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) for almost 14 years. His experience in the areas of environmental and agricultural law gives him a thorough understanding of the regulatory issues related to natural resource conservation in agriculture. He has led CFSA’s government relations activities on behalf of sustainable agriculture stakeholders, served on a variety of state and national boards and committees, and provided information to state and federal elected and administrative officials. In his work on the USDA’s Fruit & Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee, Reynolds led the committee to unanimously call for increased USDA funding for public plant breeding programs, which is a high priority of the organic community. He is effective at resolving conflicts; influencing government agencies, businesses and industry organizations; and establishing and strengthening working relationships with outside entities. Reynolds has built bridges with ‘conventional’ farmers and farm organizations, and has strengthened CFSA’s relationships with colleges and land grant universities in the Carolinas, serving on a number of departmental and college-level advisory boards and helping those institutions better serve the region’s organic producers and the goals of environmental stewardship in agriculture.

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Northeast Region: GOVERNING COUNCIL 

Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht, Garden of Eve Organic Farm & Market, Riverhead, NY

Bio/Statement: Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht and her husband Chris founded Garden of Eve organic farm in 2001, dedicated to providing delicious organic vegetables, fruits and beautiful flowers and to “making changes in the world by living them.” Invited to sell some extra produce from their garden (zucchini!) at a local farmers market they made $40 and were launched on their farming career. In the 20 years since then, they have expanded and now grow 60 acres of certified organic vegetables, flowers, raise 1500 pastured laying hens, and oversee a team of 20 at the height of the season. Garden of Eve sells produce through a large on-farm Market, 3 farmers markets, and nearly 1,000 households participating in their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs at 20 locations in New York City and on Long Island. Eve holds a BA from Harvard in Environmental Science and a MS in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She has also worked as a land preservation advocate with the North Fork Environmental Council and as Principal Planner for the Town of Southampton. In Eve's over 20 years of operating a family-scale organic farm, She has been constantly challenged to overcome the innumerable challenges that farmers face, as well as the ways that the chemical farming industry overrides the interests of real farmers in national policy. She is a longtime supporter of several OG watchdog groups and has seen how "Big Food" continues to try to water down the organic standards that the rest of us work so hard to uphold. She is well qualified for the OFA Governing Council with her skills in advocacy and lobbying, through her longtime involvement in land planning and farmland preservation on the North Fork of Long Island. She has worked with groups both inside and outside of local government to help secure the preservation of large tracts of vulnerable land including what became the Hallock State Park; North Fork County Park, and farmland that has now been preserved for perpetuity through Purchase of Development Rights.

Organization 

Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance: Edward Maltby, Executive Director, Deerfield, MA

Bio/Statement: Ed Maltby served on the founding OFA Steering Committee and Advisory Committee. NODPA started in 2001 and is the largest grassroots organization of organic dairy producers. It has remained true to its original goal of advocating on behalf of producers, regardless of who they sell their milk to, for a sustainable pay price plus protect the integrity of the USDA Organic regulations. NODPA is governed by organic dairy producers who meet regularly by conference call and annually in-person as either Board members or State Representatives. NODPA has a very active and committed Board and team of State Representatives that work together with NODPA staff to fulfill the mission of the organization. NODPA Bylaws protect the integrity of the organization and ensure that organic dairy producers control the association rather than any one brand, advocacy group or individual. NODPA represents organic dairy producers in the east of the country and has an active involvement with its sister organizations in the Midwest and the west which ensures that it can always remain connected to and controlled by its members.

Ed Maltby is a producer with over 45 years of experience managing conventional and organic dairy, beef, sheep and vegetable enterprises on a variety of different farms in Europe and the United States. For the past 20 years, Ed has worked with regional farms to cooperatively market their products into mainstream markets, ranging from direct marketing of lambs and organic produce, to establishing a cooperative of dairy farmers who direct market their own brand of milk in Western Massachusetts. Since 2005, Ed has worked as Executive Director of NODPA. He also developed a national umbrella organization, Federation of Organic Dairy Farmers (FOOD Farmers), to provide a national voice for organic dairy family farms. Ed served on the USDA Dairy Industry Advisory Committee to advise the Secretary of Agriculture on dairy policy. In 2006 when one of the last two remaining USDA slaughterhouses in MA was destroyed by fire, Ed worked with the family-owned Adams Farm Slaughterhouse to rebuild. The plant opened in November 2008 and in March 2009 Ed was asked to provide management assistance which later turned into a contract as General Manager.

Northeast Region: POLICY COMMITTEE 

Luke Gianforte, Gianforte Farm LLC, Cazenovia NY

Bio/Statement:  Gianforte Farm has been certified organic since 1998 and currently operates 600 acres of grains and row crops in Upstate New York. The farm currently grows small grains for the food grade market as well as corn, soybeans, and dry beans. I returned to the farm in 2014 after graduating from Cornell University and serve as the managing partner. Since returning to the farm, I have focused on adopting new technology relevant to organic agriculture and developing new markets for the farm's products. In 2016, Gianforte Farm won the Conservation Farm of the Year through the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District.

I was raised on my family's farm that started transiting to organic when I was five years old. I always had a deep passion for agriculture and knew I wanted to be a farmer. After high school I attend Cornell University where I had the chance to visit and learn about all types of farms all over the world. After graduation I returned home to the farm full time. I have been active in the local agricultural community through serving on the FSA County Committee and on the board of a non-profit which serves the refugee community through agriculture. I am also currently in the LEAD-NY agricultural leadership development program which has already proven to be a strong networking and personal development opportunity. As a young farmer I believe it is critical to be actively involved in the conversations regarding agricultural practices and policy decisions, especially when it comes to the Organic program. Agriculture is constantly changing, and as organic producers we need to ensure the intentions of the Organic label remain sound while continuing to move forward. Consumers are facing more food choices than ever before, making it more critical than ever to preserve the meaning of the Organic label.


2021 OFA Leadership Candidates

The following certified organic farmers and organic farm organizations are running for open seats in their region for the Governing Council or Policy Committee.OFA farm members will vote on their regional candidates.  OFA policy is ONE FARM, ONE VOTE.  Each farm has an equal place at the table.

The ballot is open until November 15.

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California: GOVERNING COUNCIL Candidates

Farmer Candidates

Judith Redmond, Full Belly Farm, Guinda, CA

Bio/Statement: I currently serve as an officer on the OFA Governing Council, and I would like to be re-elected for another two- year term. I have been a co-owner and farmer at Full Belly Farm since 1989. I also serve as an adviser to the California Climate and Agriculture Network, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, and as a Commissioner of the Capay Valley Volunteer Fire Department. With the diversity of livestock, produce and flowers that we raise here at Full Belly, we are constantly made aware of the importance of regulations and policy and how they strongly influence the viability and success of different kinds of

farms. People making policy and the public at-large do not understand on-the-ground challenges of farming. Through the work of OFA, organic farmers can build a stronger voice for themselves as part of reducing agriculture’s environmental footprint. Full Belly Farm is a certified organic, multi-generational farm founded in 1985. We enjoy cooking, eating, growing, harvesting and selling fruits, nuts and vegetables year-round. We also grow beautiful flowers and top off our activities caring for a herd of sheep and a flock of chickens. We make every effort to foster sustainability on many levels — from fertility in our soil and care for the environment, to creating a stable and respectful workplace for our employees. We attend farmers markets, have a CSA program and sell to many stores and wholesalers. We often invite our CSA members and customers to the farm and offer numerous events for people who want to learn more about organic agriculture and the farmers that grow their food. Through this work we hope to invigorate the agricultural economy and build the social well-being of the small communities in our Valley.

Albert Vera, Vera Ranches, Culver City, CA

Bio/Statement: Albert Vera is a business owner, city commissioner and lifelong Culver City resident. Continuing a legacy of leadership begun by his father. Vera owns Sorrento Italian Market, a specialty food store filled with old-world charm, as well as the family’s 26 ranches encompassing thousands of acres north of Bakersfield. He is a member of the Culver City Exchange Club and has served on both the Culver City Landlord/Tenant Board and the Culver City Civil Service Commission, where he currently serves as part of the five-member commission charged with advising the City Council on all matters concerning Human Resources administration, recommending adoption of amendments to the Civil Service Rules, making any appropriate investigation regarding Human Resources administration and providing an appeals procedure for classified employees. Vera also serves on the Culver City Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the Culver City Palms YMCA Board of Managers.

California: POLICY COMMITTEE Candidates

Farmer Candidates

Kenneth Kimes, Greensward / New Natives, LLC, Aptos, CA

Bio/Statement: I currently represent California on the OFA Policy Committee and would like to be elected for another 2-year term. I have been farming greenhouse microgreens year-round for over 35 years and have always farmed organically (certified since 1982) and have only ever used organic seed (90k lbs. per year). We lobby the public to promote organic continuously at the farmers markets. My wife and I run the farm with ten full-time employees and five part-time employees. I have served on the Board of Directors for the following organizations: Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) (10+ years), Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau Board (6 years), Agriculture Policy Advisory Commission (10 years), Monterrey Bay Certified Farmers Markets, Action Pajaro Valley (farmland preservation task force), Santa Cruz County GMO Commission (we banned GMO's), and was on the Board of Directors for CCOF for many years.

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Midwest Region: GOVERNING COUNCIL Candidates

Farmer Candidates

Dave Bishop, PrairiErth Far, Atlanta, IL

Bio/Statement: I currently serve on the OFA Governing Council and would like to be re-elected to another two-year term. PrairiErth is a 300-acre farm with diverse crops and livestock and has been certified organic since 2004. With my family we also run the 100- acre farm where I grew up. Over these combined 400 acres, we grow organic corn, soybeans, oats, wheat, livestock forages, vegetables, fruit, and flowers and produce organic beef, pork, eggs and honey. We sell at local farmers’ markets and to restaurants and stores and offer a vegetable CSA and winter CSA. PrairiErth Farm has been participating in research with the University of Illinois for many years. Current research is studying the impact of various cover crop mixtures on weed suppression, soil microbial activity, and field productivity. We are passionate about growing organically, a system I adopted after years of conventional farming. I view organic farming as a way to limit our ecological footprint by caring for the earth, not just for us, but for future generations. We've reduced our farm “footprint” even further by using solar-powered pasture fencing and livestock watering systems. In addition to farming, I have lobbied in DC with NSAC for organic and local food issues, both in writing the farm bill and in the appropriations process. He currently serves as President of the Illinois Food, Farms, and Jobs Council, a Governor appointed entity created to advise the Governor and the Legislature on agricultural issues.

Jason Holly, Hempsylvania, Inc, Drums, PA

Bio/Statement: Jason farms a 23-acre farm located on the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains where he cultivates hemp, garlic, beets, mushrooms and pumpkins. He also uses waste product from hemp production to create a fermented fertigation product, brewing high volumes of aerated compost tea. Currently all hemp cultivated by Hempsylvania is intended for human consumption in a variety of our post-processing pathways, as such, he grows using only organic methods, without pesticides or other harmful growth regulators. He takes pride in ensuring that only natural ingredients and procedures are used in his cultivating, curing and extraction processes.

Midwest Region: POLICY COMMITTEE Candidates

Farmer Candidates

Michael Adsit, Plymouth Orchards, Plymouth, MI

Bio/Statement: I currently serve on the OFA Policy Committee and would like to be re-elected for another two-year term. I also served as a member of the founding OFA Steering Committee. During this time, serving OFA, I have spent a significant amount of time establishing communications with other organic farmers, promoting OFA to farmer interest groups and meeting with members of the Congress and Senate on behalf of OFA. I am committing to doing everything I can to represent and further the interests of organic farmers. My farm, Plymouth Orchards, is a 120-acre organic orchard and farm. We are also a regional agri-tourism destination. The farm was originally started in 1977. We grow organic apples, raspberries, asparagus, vegetables, small grains and hay. Plymouth Orchards is also certified as a processor for organic dried apples. Vegetables are marketed through a CSA. Fruits are direct marketed and wholesale. At Plymouth Orchards, I am responsible for organic crop production and marketing.

Organization Candidates

Illinois Stewardship Alliance (ISA), Molly Gleason, Communications Director, Springfield IL

Bio/Statement: I currently serve on the OFA Policy Committee and am interested in serving another term. I was raised on my family's 4th generation grain farm in Elkhart, Illinois and currently manage 63 acres of that farm. In the future, I hope to diversify our land into organic production. While my family farm does not currently use organic practices, my involvement with the farm provides a front-row seat to the issues involved with making the decision to transition to organic and all the challenges that entails, especially as it relates to generational transfer of farm management. In addition, my experience at Illinois Stewardship Alliance brings me into contact with direct-market fruit and vegetable growers on a regular basis, many of which use organic practices or who have gone through the certification process. I work with them to understand the barriers and opportunities facing local food producers, drive demand for local food, and shape and promote local food policy. I bring strong communications skills, community-organizing and coalition-building experience, and an in-depth knowledge of the food system. If elected, I would love to put these assets to work to raise the profile of organic farming, advance organic initiatives, and garner recognition for organic farming as more than a niche method of farming, but as a real and lasting solution to restore soils, feed communities, and build thriving local economies and ecosystems.  Illinois Stewardship Alliance (ISA) is a membership-based organization. We are an organization of local food producer, concerned citizen or food-systems related organization. Alliance members span the state and have one thing in common: they all care about the food that is produced and consumed in Illinois and want to support the increase of fresh, local foods.

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North Central Region: GOVERNING COUNCIL Candidates

Farmer Candidates

Mike Kelly, High Meadow Farm, Johnson Creek, WI

Bio/Statement: I currently serve on the OFA Governing Council and am interested in serving another term. My family and I started a Community Supported Agriculture program in 2009, and today raise certified organic veggies, poultry and sheep on our gorgeous, well-maintained 40-acre certified organic farm with the help of farm friends, volunteers and employees. Our CSA has over 200 members, we also sell wholesale accounts, and have workplace CSA relationships with local businesses. I served on the FairShare CSA Board of Directors and currently serve as a county supervisor with Jefferson County and on the Farmers Union water committee. Prior to farming, I had a career as a utilities superintendent. I am very interested in promoting organic agriculture and do that from my work on the farm and through my position as county supervisor.

Organization Candidates

Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES): David Perkins, President, Spring Valley, WI

Bio/Statement: We currently serve on the OFA Governing Council and we are interested in serving another term. Educating farmers about organic and sustainable production is the foundation of our work. The cornerstone of this foundation is the annual MOSES Organic Farming Conference, the country’s largest conference on organic and sustainable farming, which draws 3,000+ people each February to La Crosse, Wis. We also educate farmers about specific farming practices through MOSES Organic Field Days and the MOSES Organic Answer Line. We manage several projects to support and empower organic farmers: Farmer-to-Farmer Mentoring Program, New Organic Stewards program, and our Rural Women’s Project. We also advocate for national policies that encourage organic production.

David Perkins currently serves as President of MOSES. David returned to his rural roots in 1994 to create Vermont Valley Community Farm located in southern Wisconsin. After a wonderfully successful 24 years of connecting thousands of people to their food, the CSA was retired in 2018. The farm continues its organic seed potato business. Committed to nurturing more CSA farms, David has spoken across the country on CSA, organic vegetable production and financial management. Certified organic since 1999, David is passionate about organic. He is the current Board President of Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services (MOSES) and served on the FairShare CSA Coalition Board, the Organic Farmers Association Board, and the UW- Madison Center for Integrated Agriculture Systems council.

North Central Region: POLICY COMMITTEE Candidates

Farmer Candidates

DeEtta Bilek, Tom & DeEtta Bilek Farm, Aldrich, MN

Bio/Statement: I currently serve on the OFA Policy Committee and am interested in serving another term. My husband and I have owned and operated our 220-acre farm since 1977. We have been certified organic since 1998. On the farm we have crop production, graze beef cattle, and maintain forest. My primary role on the farm is the paperwork and help with overall management. My past experience with farm policy includes several opportunities to testify at Minnesota Legislature hearings and meetings with individual policy makers to share organic and sustainable agriculture information from a farmer perspective. I have attended two NOSB meetings and presented on behalf of OCIA International. At that time, I was a Board member and served one year as President of the Board. From 1997 - 2003, I was Program Manager for the Sustainable Farm Association of MN. From 2004 - 2016, I was Chair for the MN OCIA Chapter's Education Committee. I have also served on the MISA Certification Board of Directors and have participated on the Land Stewardship's Federal Farm Policy Committee.

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Western Region: GOVERNING COUNCIL Candidates

Farmer Candidates

Nathaniel Powell-Palm, Cold Springs Organics, Bozeman, MT

Bio/Statement: I currently serve on the OFA Governing Council and would like to be re-elected to another term. I am a certified organic grain and beef cattle producer located in Bozeman, MT. As a first-generation farmer and rancher, I started my operation in 2004 and received organic certification in 2008. From my original leased 10 acres in 2004 my operation today consists of 875 acres on which I produce organic small grains and grass finished beef cattle. In addition to my farm, I work as an IOIA trained independent organic inspector. Currently contracted with 6 Accredited Certifying Agencies, I inspect approximately 225 operations per year. I have inspected organic operations to the NOP standard in 36 states for all three scopes (crops, livestock, and processing). I hold a BS in Environmental Science, with a focus on soil and water resources from Montana State University. My training as an agronomy researcher and my research history in soil chemistry has allowed me to hone a strong analytical skill set directly related to organic production agriculture. I believe my 9 years as a certified organic beef and grain producer has equipped me with significant technical expertise in organic production. My experience as an organic inspector has allowed me to examine operations and listen to the concerns of organic producers in every region of the country. If selected to serve on the Governing Council, I would bring both my expertise as a producer and broad experience as an organic inspector to my work with the OFA. Lastly, as a young farmer, I have experienced firsthand the challenges of starting a successful farming business and have spent most of my time farming certified organic. As the organic production community expands to include more and more young growers, I will bring a viewpoint and understanding to my work with the OFA that will align closely with a quickly growing sector of the industry.

Linley Dixon, Adobe House Farm, Durango, CO

Bio/Statement: Starting on rented land, over the past 10 years, our family has worked hard to build our farm business and finally purchase a farm on which we can live and continue to grow. This experience has exposed me to the challenges new organic farmers face to get started and succeed. I have a Masters in Plant and Soil Science and a PhD in Plant Pathology. My hope is that OFA can help ensure that USDA organic standards and enforcement continues to represent the values of the organic community and the way the vast majority of us farm, that is with the responsibility to maintain healthy soil and pasture. For the past ten years, we have farmed 3 acres of vegetables intensively in Durango, CO, with a prime focus on soil health. We direct market to local restaurants, SWFF Local Distribution Cooperative, James Ranch, and the Durango Farmers Market. Our specialties are soil-grown greenhouse tomatoes, salad greens, peppers and strawberries. Daily operations are managed by my husband, Peter Dixon, and brother, Reid Smith. I am the associate director of the Real Organic Project by day and tomato pruner extraordinaire by night.

Organization Candidates

Montana Organic Association (MOA): Becky Weed, Board of Directors, MT

Bio/Statement: Montana Organic Association currently serve on the OFA Governing Council and are interested in serving another term. Becky currently represents Montana Organic Association on the Governing Council and would like to serve another two-year term. Since 2002, The Montana Organic Association has been the voice of Montana's organic community. MOA believes that the organic movement is the one best hope for keeping small family farms viable while providing clean, nutritious, and safe food to the community; helping secure our food system by supporting farm diversity; and contributing to a healthier environment which helps protect our precious wildlife and natural resources. MOA's mission is to advocate and promote organic agriculture for the highest good of the people, the environment and the state's economy.

Becky Weed and her husband Dave Tyler have owned and operated Thirteen Mile Farm in Southwest Montana for thirty years (certified since 1999). They primarily run a certified organic grassfed sheep flock, although their operation has included a wool processing mill (2003-2017), as well as grassfed organic cattle and small-scale commercial vegetables intermittently. One of Becky’s employees is purchasing and continuing the wool mill, opening up time for Becky to return her focus more fully to her land, integrating crops and livestock, and to agriculture more broadly. Becky has served on the Montana Board of Livestock, and the boards of the Wild Farm Alliance, People and Carnivores, and has recently joined the board of the Montana Organic Association. She also served on the Conservation & Science Board of a very large ranch operation in Central Idaho, Lava Lake Land & Livestock, continuing her lifelong interest in the interface of agriculture and conservation. Before becoming involved in agriculture, Becky worked for more than ten years as a geologist with degrees in the Geological Sciences from Harvard (B.A.) and University of Maine (M.S.). That mixed background in research in some of the wildest places on earth, along with hazardous waste cleanup in some extremely urban locations continue to influence Becky’s perceptions and hopes for agriculture.

Western Region: POLICY COMMITTEE Candidates

Farmer Candidates

Nathaniel Powell-Palm, Cold Springs Organics, Bozeman, MT

Bio/Statement: I am a certified organic grain and beef cattle producer located in Bozeman, MT. As a first-generation farmer and rancher, I started my operation in 2004 and received organic certification in 2008. From my original leased 10 acres in 2004 my operation today consists of 875 acres on which I produce organic small grains and grass finished beef cattle. In addition to my farm, I work as an IOIA trained independent organic inspector. Currently contracted with 6 Accredited Certifying Agencies, I inspect approximately 225 operations per year. I have inspected organic operations to the NOP standard in 36 states for all three scopes (crops, livestock, and processing). I hold a BS in Environmental Science, with a focus on soil and water resources from Montana State University. My training as an agronomy researcher and my research history in soil chemistry has allowed me to hone a strong analytical skill set directly related to organic production agriculture. I believe my 9 years as a certified organic beef and grain producer has equipped me with significant technical expertise in organic production. My experience as an organic inspector has allowed me to examine operations and listen to the concerns of organic producers in every region of the country. If selected to serve on the Governing Council, I would bring both my expertise as a producer and broad experience as an organic inspector to my work with the OFA. Lastly, as a young farmer, I have experienced firsthand the challenges of starting a successful farming business and have spent most of my time farming certified organic. As the organic production community expands to include more and more young growers, I will bring a viewpoint and understanding to my work with the OFA that will align closely with a quick growing sector of the industry.

Organization Candidates

Tilth Alliance: Melissa Spear, Executive Director, WA

Bio/Statement: Tilth Alliance works in community with Washington's farmers, gardeners and eaters for a more sustainable, healthy and equitable food future. Our strategic priorities include advancing organic, regenerative, and sustainable growing practices, to increase demand for healthy food grown in Washington using organic, regenerative and sustainable growing practices, and to raise awareness of the critical relationship between food production and climate change. Our membership base is composed primarily of certified organic farmers. We serve our base through advocacy at the state and county level, by providing training opportunities, by directly connecting organic farmers to consumers through the Washington Farm and Food Finder, and by producing an annual conference where organic farmers from Washington can convene to learn, network and socialize.

Melissa Spear has worked at the intersection of conservation and agriculture for the past 15 years. She started out at The Trust for Public Land, successfully protecting several iconic farms in Connecticut. She then spent 9 years as Executive Director of a non-profit organic urban farm and environmental education center serving the city of New Haven, CT. She served as the vice-chair of the Working Lands Alliance in Connecticut, an advocacy organization working to ensure farming remained a viable enterprise in the state. She moved to Seattle and became Executive Director of Tilth Alliance in 2018 where her focus is squarely on promoting and supporting the adoption of organic practices. Under her leadership, Tilth Alliance is leading the formation of a Coalition for Organic and Regenerative Agriculture that will advocate for organic farmers and farming practices both here in Washington and in Washington D.C.

Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (WODPA): Jill Smith, WODPA Consultant, WA

Bio/Statement: WODPA represents dairy farmers in the Western United States. The mission of the Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance is to preserve, protect, and ensure the sustainability and integrity of organic dairy farming across the west.

Jill Smith is the owner and founder of Pure Éire Dairy in Othello, Washington, actively involved with the farming, dairying, processing, and marketing of her family's own brand of dairy products sold throughout the state of Washington. The scope of her work includes working directly with consumers, retailers, and distributors, allowing her to understand what organic buyers’ expectations are with organic products. She has been an organic producer since 2005, is also currently working as a Consultant for the Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance and is actively involved with several sustainability groups throughout the Pacific Northwest. Organic integrity and policy directly impact her livelihood and the commitment she has made to her consumers.

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Southern Region: GOVERNING COUNCIL Candidates

Farmer Candidates

Jordan Pool, F&S Pool Farms, Inc, Dalhart, TX

Bio/Statement: We currently grow both conventional and organic crop . Between conventional and organic we farm about 8500 acres, 1500 of those being certified organic. Our certified organic crops grown are corn, cotton, pima cotton, peanuts, alfalfa, and milo. I started farming 16 years ago working for my father, then in 2010 when I married my wife, I started branching out on my own. I make all the major decisions on the farm and my wife takes care of our financial part. We have a great partnership and love what we do!

Shawn Peebles, Shawn Peebles Organic Farm LLC, Augusta, AR

Bio/Statement: Our farm is solely organic. I am a third-generation farmer. I started farming early with my dad and branched out on my own about 20 years ago. I switched to organic farming in 2009. We farm approximately 1500 acres. We grow sweet potatoes, edamame, black eye peas, soybeans, and corn. We find it exciting to find new crops to grow and diversify more each year. I handle some of each aspect that goes into a farming operation. I am hands on and fully involved in each decision that goes into the operation. I am currently serving on the USDA's Specialty Crop Committee. I have also served on a dicamba specialty task force. I enjoy speaking at meetings and conventions to share my knowledge and experience with others. I think organic farming is the future and want to see it grow. I will stand tall for my beliefs and advocate for what I believe in.

David Faison, Dface Farm, LLC, Hephzibah, GA

Bio/Statement: David Faison, Jr. is a second-generation farmer and former Army NCO, now serving as a Dept of the Army employee, Intensive care unit LPN at Eisenhower Army Medical Center where he has served since 1995. He has been a certified organic farmer running Dface Farm, LLC since 2018. Dface Farm is a small USDA certified organic farm in Richmond county Georgia. On this farm, David produces a small amount of diverse vegetables on 3 acres. He grows okra, pea's, kale, greens, peppers, tomatoes and some other veggies and berries. He supports their local Veggie Park Farmers Market (Augusta, GA) sales and online sales and teaching a sustainable farming lifestyle.

Seth Fortenberry, SSF Farms Inc, New Deal, TX

Bio/Statement: Seth Fortenberry is a 4th generation farmer who grew up in the south plains of West Texas farming since he was a young boy. Seth’s Great Grandfather W.O Fortenberry bought some of the land that Seth farms to this day. Seth began farming in 2002 using conventional practices. In 2006 Seth’s farming practices started to change after meeting oncologist, cancer survivor, and organic advocate Dr. Lillian Chou. In 2006, Dr. Chou asked Seth to farm one of her fields but required he farm it organically. Through his friendship with Dr. Chou Seth learned of the health benefits of farming organic and how organic farming can be done on a large scale. Currently, Seth farms 3000+ acres of certified organic farmland and another 3000+ acres of uncertified farmland (farmed using organic methods) in Lubbock and Hale County, Texas. His organic crops consist of Cotton, Corn, Milo, Black Eyed Peas, Garbanzo Beans, Wheat, Barley, and others. He is committed to on-farm research and has opened up several acres for research of organic crops and crop production systems. In 2015, he purchased a feed mill and started New Deal Grain to process his and other local farmers' organic commodities. He is passionate about producing the healthiest food from the healthiest soil, and helping others do the same.

Southern Region: POLICY COMMITTEE Candidates

Farmer Candidates

Laura Freeman, Mt. Folly Farm, Winchester, KY

Bio/Statement: I currently serve on the OFA Policy Committee and would like to be re-elected to another term. I own and run Mt. Folly Farm. Mt. Folly includes 1250 acres of pasture, timber, and crop land. About 70% of our crop and hay land is certified organic, making 290 organic acres and one organic high tunnel. I own and run the farm and have since 1982. I am also currently working to certify our cattle. I am also a climate change activist and farm entrepreneur, especially focused on hemp and heritage grains. Our farm is located in Kentucky, which has a nascent organic farming movement, so we are early adopters. Our core group is under 40, representing the future of farming. We are spreading the value of organics in the region by hosting multiple field days each year and connecting with our elected officials--introducing them to organic farming.

Jordan Pool, F&S Pool Farms, Inc, Dalhart, TX

Bio/Statement: We currently grow both conventional and organic crop . Between conventional and organic we farm about 8500 acres, 1500 of those being organic. Our certified organic crops grown are corn, cotton, pima cotton, peanuts, alfalfa, and milo. I started farming 16 years ago working for my father, then in 2010 when I married my wife, I started branching out on my own. I make all of the major decisions on the farm and my wife takes care of our financial part. We have a great partnership and love what we do!

David Faison, Dface Farm, LLC, Hephzibah, GA

Bio/Statement: David Faison, Jr. is a second-generation farmer and former Army NCO, now serving as a Dept of the Army employee, Intensive care unit LPN at Eisenhower Army Medical Center where he has served since 1995. He has been a certified organic farmer running Dface Farm, LLC since 2018. Dface Farm is a small USDA certified organic farm in Richmond county Georgia. On this farm, David produces a small amount of diverse vegetables on 3 acres. He grows okra, pea's, kale, greens, peppers, tomatoes and some other veggies and berries. He supports their local Veggie Park Farmers Market (Augusta, GA) sales and online sales and teaching a sustainable farming lifestyle.

Organization Candidates

Organic Association of Kentucky: Brooke Gentile , Executive Director, KY

Bio/Statement: The Organic Association of Kentucky (OAK) advances organic agriculture to improve the health of the environment and our communities. We grow ecological resilience, economic viability and socially just futures for Kentucky farmers through educational, technical and market resources. OAK's programs include Organic Transition Technical Assistance, Farmer Field Days, Annual Organic Farming Conference, Employer Sponsored CSA Programs, and Consumer Education. Founded by farmers and researchers in 2011, OAK has grown significantly in the past few years and continues to serve farmers with nearly 400 members and programs that reach 3,000 participants annually. Learn more about us at www.oak-ky.org.

Brooke Gentile joined the Organic Association of Kentucky (OAK) in 2017 as the Executive Director. She is a Kentucky native and brings a background rich in food and farming non-profit program development, evaluation and management. Brooke has been committed to strengthening organic food and farming systems ever since working on Italian farms over two decades ago. Inspired to grow the small farm and local food revolution, Brooke worked with Cornell Cooperative Extension and Red Hook Farms in New York City to develop youth urban agriculture programs. She then moved to Northern California and lived and worked at Occidental Arts and Ecology Center in the gardens, focusing on production, education and organizing. From there, Brooke shared five years with Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, a community food pantry with gardens and nutrition education in Bloomington, Indiana. As the Executive Director she led the organization through the strategic planning process, increased food access advocacy programming while more than doubling program capacity during the 2008 recession, strengthened partnerships and won state recognition for impacts. Back in Kentucky, Brooke then taught undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment about issues in agriculture and sustainable farming practices for four years. Now with the Organic Association of Kentucky she melds a passion for farming, organic practices, education and advocacy to support OAK’s growing programs and state-wide farmer network.

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association: Roland McReynolds, Executive Director, NC

Bio/Statement: The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) is a farmer-driven, membership-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that helps people in North and South Carolina grow and eat local, organic food by advocating for fair farm and food policies, building systems that family farms need to thrive, and educating communities about local, organic agriculture. Founded in 1979, CFSA is the oldest and largest sustainable agriculture organization in the Southeast. We provide training and technical assistance to farmers on organic farming practices, including: consulting on organic high tunnel production of specialty crops; providing NRCS TSP services for farmers seeking CAP-138 plans (supporting organic transition); hosting numerous workshops throughout the year; running the only organic certified incubator farm in the Southeast, Lomax Farm in Concord, NC; conducting research on organic vegetable production practices at Lomax Farm and other farms; and hosting two annual conferences for organic farmers. We also conduct extensive policy advocacy on issues of importance to organic farmers in North and South Carolina, at the state and federal levels.

Roland Reynolds is an attorney and has served as the Executive Director of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) for almost 14 years. His experience in the areas of environmental and agricultural law gives him a thorough understanding of the regulatory issues related to natural resource conservation in agriculture. He has led CFSA’s government relations activities on behalf of sustainable agriculture stakeholders, served on a variety of state and national boards and committees, and provided information to state and federal elected and administrative officials. In his work on the USDA’s Fruit & Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee, Reynolds led the committee to unanimously call for increased USDA funding for public plant breeding programs, which is a high priority of the organic community. He is effective at resolving conflicts; influencing government agencies, businesses and industry organizations; and establishing and strengthening working relationships with outside entities. Reynolds has built bridges with ‘conventional’ farmers and farm organizations, and has strengthened CFSA’s relationships with colleges and land grant universities in the Carolinas, serving on a number of departmental and college-level advisory boards and helping those institutions better serve the region’s organic producers and the goals of environmental stewardship in agriculture.

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Northeast Region: GOVERNING COUNCIL Candidates

Farmer Candidates

Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht, Garden of Eve Organic Farm & Market, Riverhead, NY

Bio/Statement: Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht and her husband Chris founded Garden of Eve organic farm in 2001, dedicated to providing delicious organic vegetables, fruits and beautiful flowers and to “making changes in the world by living them.” Invited to sell some extra produce from their garden (zucchini!) at a local farmers market they made $40 and were launched on their farming career. In the 20 years since then, they have expanded and now grow 60 acres of certified organic vegetables, flowers, raise 1500 pastured laying hens, and oversee a team of 20 at the height of the season. Garden of Eve sells produce through a large on-farm Market, 3 farmers markets, and nearly 1,000 households participating in their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs at 20 locations in New York City and on Long Island. Eve holds a BA from Harvard in Environmental Science and a MS in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She has also worked as a land preservation advocate with the North Fork Environmental Council and as Principal Planner for the Town of Southampton. In Eve's over 20 years of operating a family-scale organic farm, She has been constantly challenged to overcome the innumerable challenges that farmers face, as well as the ways that the chemical farming industry overrides the interests of real farmers in national policy. She is a longtime supporter of several OG watchdog groups and has seen how "Big Food" continues to try to water down the organic standards that the rest of us work so hard to uphold. She is well qualified for the OFA Governing Council with her skills in advocacy and lobbying, through her longtime involvement in land planning and farmland preservation on the North Fork of Long Island. She has worked with groups both inside and outside of local government to help secure the preservation of large tracts of vulnerable land including what became the Hallock State Park; North Fork County Park, and farmland that has now been preserved for perpetuity through Purchase of Development Rights.

Matthias Reisen, Healing Spirits Herb Farm & Education Center , Avoca, NY

Bio/Statement: Matthias and his partner have been producing certified organic medicinal herbs since 1992. Before that he was an organic dairy farmer. He produces over 60 medicinal botanicals plus produce value added products. The farm consists of 40 acres, 20 acres of river bottom land and 20 acres of woodland. They have been farming this land since 1982. Matthias has a B.Sc. in Agronomy (the study of plant and soil sciences). He was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines working with subsistence farmers on crop diversification. His role working with Cornell Cooperative Extension was that of a Field Crops and Vegetable Agent but also worked with greenhouse and maple syrup producers. Healing Spirits Herb Farm and Education Center has been in operation since 1991. Over the years Matthias has volunteered with the USDA Farmer to Farmer program assisting small scale farmers in Nepal, Jamaica, Belarus, Colombia and the Dominican Republic. Matthias is also past president of the International Herb Association and the Northeast Herbal Association.

Nicole Zlotnikov, Zfarms Organic, Dover Plains, NY

Bio/Statement: The certified organic products on Nicole's family farm are livestock, beef, lamb, goats meat, poultry, eggs, vegetables, orchard, and berries. The farm is a total of 220 acres, 80 acres in production. While Nicole is currently a junior in High School, she takes a management role on the farm with financial planning, advertising and marketing strategies. Nicole is passionate about preservation and restoration of ecology for the future of the planet. She feels that organic regenerative agriculture is an important piece in the solution of the problem. She feels that food justice is an important issue and that organic local farms can help to supply people of different social background with the high-quality healthy food. Recently, Nicole launched a charitable volunteer organization, Farm to Food Pantry. It has been promoting local food pantries' volunteers to come to farms and help farmers to donate their products for people in need in local communities.

Organization Candidates

Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance: Edward Maltby, Executive Director, Deerfield, MA

Bio/Statement: Ed Maltby currently represents NODPA on the OFA Policy Committee and would like to also serve on the Governing Council. He has also served on the founding OFA Steering Committee and Advisory Committee. NODPA started in 2001 and is the largest grassroots organization of organic dairy producers. It has remained true to its original goal of advocating on behalf of producers, regardless of who they sell their milk to, for a sustainable pay price plus protect the integrity of the USDA Organic regulations. NODPA is governed by organic dairy producers who meet regularly by conference call and annually in-person as either Board members or State Representatives. NODPA has a very active and committed Board and team of State Representatives that work together with NODPA staff to fulfill the mission of the organization. NODPA Bylaws protect the integrity of the organization and ensure that organic dairy producers control the association rather than any one brand, advocacy group or individual. NODPA represents organic dairy producers in the east of the country and has an active involvement with its sister organizations in the Midwest and the west which ensures that it can always remain connected to and controlled by its members.

Ed Maltby is a producer with over 45 years of experience managing conventional and organic dairy, beef, sheep and vegetable enterprises on a variety of different farms in Europe and the United States. For the past 20 years, Ed has worked with regional farms to cooperatively market their products into mainstream markets, ranging from direct marketing of lambs and organic produce, to establishing a cooperative of dairy farmers who direct market their own brand of milk in Western Massachusetts. Since 2005, Ed has worked as Executive Director of NODPA. He also developed a national umbrella organization, Federation of Organic Dairy Farmers (FOOD Farmers), to provide a national voice for organic dairy family farms. Ed served on the USDA Dairy Industry Advisory Committee to advise the Secretary of Agriculture on dairy policy. In 2006 when one of the last two remaining USDA slaughterhouses in MA was destroyed by fire, Ed worked with the family-owned Adams Farm Slaughterhouse to rebuild. The plant opened in November 2008 and in March 2009 Ed was asked to provide management assistance which later turned into a contract as General Manager.

Northeast Region: POLICY COMMITTEE Candidates

Farmer Candidates

Luke Gianforte, Gianforte Farm LLC, Cazenovia NY

Bio/Statement: I currently serve on the OFA Policy Committee and am interested in serving another term. Gianforte Farm has been certified organic since 1998 and currently operates 600 acres of grains and row crops in Upstate New York. The farm currently grows small grains for the food grade market as well as corn, soybeans, and dry beans. I returned to the farm in 2014 after graduating from Cornell University and serve as the managing partner. Since returning to the farm, I have focused on adopting new technology relevant to organic agriculture and developing new markets for the farm's products. In 2016, Gianforte Farm won the Conservation Farm of the Year through the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District.

I was raised on my family's farm that started transiting to organic when I was five years old. I always had a deep passion for agriculture and knew I wanted to be a farmer. After high school I attend Cornell University where I had the chance to visit and learn about all types of farms all over the world. After graduation I returned home to the farm full time. I have been active in the local agricultural community through serving on the FSA County Committee and on the board of a non-profit which serves the refugee community through agriculture. I am also currently in the LEAD-NY agricultural leadership development program which has already proven to be a strong networking and personal development opportunity. As a young farmer I believe it is critical to be actively involved in the conversations regarding agricultural practices and policy decisions, especially when it comes to the Organic program. Agriculture is constantly changing, and as organic producers we need to ensure the intentions of the Organic label remain sound while continuing to move forward. Consumers are facing more food choices than ever before, making it more critical than ever to preserve the meaning of the Organic label.


September Policy Update

By, Patty Lovera, Policy Director

COVID-19 RESPONSE

It’s getting a little repetitive, but once again there is still no clear sign what Congress will do next to address the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and related economic disruption. The House passed its version of a stimulus/pandemic response bill in May, but the Senate has not yet passed its own bill. On September 10th, the Senate voted on a Republican version of a limited or “skinny” version of a pandemic response bill, which failed, 52-47 (most bills need 60 votes to advance in the Senate.) 

This means that the negotiations between Democrats and Republicans will continue, with major issues to be resolved, including aid to state and local governments, unemployment assistance, and a proposal to provide 

businesses with immunity from lawsuits by workers or customers. The two sides seem to be as far apart as they were earlier this summer, but as we get closer to the election, there may be more pressure on both sides to come up with something that can pass both the House and Senate.

So far, the negotiations remain focused on those big picture economic issues, with not much discussion of specific sectors like agriculture. All the bills that have been introduced would provide more funding for USDA to make direct payments to farms and processors that were impacted by the pandemic, with the same vague instructions that give a lot of discretion to USDA on how to set up these payments.

USDA continues to run the two main programs established by the CARES Act that Congress passed earlier this year. You can read more about these programs here. The deadline for applying for the direct payment program, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, just passed but USDA has said they will soon be making an announcement about a new round of funding for that program. We will post an update on the OFA website when details are released.

USDA Regulations on Origin of Organic Livestock

Earlier this summer, we made sure to remind the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) that Congress had set a deadline for them to finalize a long-delayed rule about how livestock are transitioned into organic production. Congress set a deadline of mid-June for NOP to finish this rule in the 2020 appropriations (spending) bill for USDA.

Unfortunately, the NOP not only failed to meet that deadline, but has now explained that they believe there are significant problems with the proposed rule they have been working on since 2015 that need to be addressed before they can finish it.

OFA is going to continue to push NOP to finish this rule, which is critical for creating a level playing field for all organic dairy producers and closing the loopholes in existing regulations that are being exploited by large operations.

Organic Certification Cost-Share

On August 10, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that funds were being released for the annual organic certification cost share program. OFA has been working with allies like the National Organic Coalition for several months to pressure FSA to make this year’s funds available so that organic farmers and handling operations could begin to apply for reimbursement for part of their annual certification costs.

Unfortunately, the FSA announced that due to an unexpected shortfall in funding, they were lowering the reimbursement rate to 50 percent of the certified organic operation’s eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $500 per scope. This is reduced from a rate of 75 percent of the certified organic operation’s eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $750 per scope in previous years (and the level that was specified for this program in the last Farm Bill.) OFA has been working with NOC and other allies to understand what happened to cause this funding shortfall and to alert members of Congress who support the cost share program. In late August, 39 members of the House sent a letter to FSA objecting to this cut in the reimbursement rate and in September, Senator Collins (R-ME) sent her own letter expressing concern. We are going to keep working with members of Congress to try to restore the funding for organic certification cost share this year and to prevent funding shortfalls like this in the future. You can find out how to take action on cost share here.

Don’t Forget to Comment on Stopping Fraudulent Organic Imports!  

OFA has worked for years to demand better enforcement to prevent fraud in organic markets. In last month’s policy update, we gave some detail on the proposed rule on Strengthening Organic Enforcement. The public comment period for this proposed rule is open until October 5th, so check out what is in the rule and find out how to add your comment here.

COMMENT ON STRENGTHENING ORGANIC ENFORCEMENT RULE

National Organic Standards Board Fall Meeting

The fall NOSB meeting will be held online, spread out over several days. The public comment sessions will be from noon until 5:00 eastern on October 20 and 22, and the NOSB meeting will be from noon until 5:00 eastern on October 28, 29 and 30th.

You can get information about registering to watch the meeting online, how to submit written comments and how to sign up for a public comment slot on the USDA’s website for this meeting. The deadline to submit written comments and sign up for a public comment slot is October 1st.

You can see the full agenda for the meeting on the USDA’s website, but two items that might be of interest to OFA members are paper pots and a parasiticide for laying hens called fenbendazole. You can read more about the proposals the NOSB will vote on at the October meeting here. OFA will be urging the board to approve paper pots as an allowable synthetic because they are similar to already-approved inputs and because they are particularly important to smaller operations. And we will be urging the board not to allow the use of fenbendazole with no withholding period and no defined parameters for use. There are real concerns about the potential for residues of the drug to remain in eggs laid by treated birds as well as concerns about how this drug fits into a properly managed organic system with adequate outdoor access.

 

TAKE ACTION ON ORGANIC ENFORCEMENT

We also need OFA members to weigh in during the public comment period for the Strengthening Organic Enforcement proposed rule to make sure it gets finalized quickly and that the final rule is a strong as possible.

Here’s how you can comment:

The fastest way to submit a public comment is through the federal government’s online system. This proposed rule has its own web page and you can click on the “Comment Now” button on the top right to enter your comment. You can either copy and paste your comment into the system or attach a file.

If you want to submit a hard copy of your comments instead (you don’t need to do this if you submit online), send it to:

Jennifer Tucker, Deputy Administrator, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Room 2642-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250-0268;  Fax: (202) 260-9151

What to include in your comment:

  • Make sure to include the docket number for this proposed rule in your written comment: AMS-NOP-17-0065.
  • Explain that you are an organic farmer and mention any specific concerns you have or examples of how fraud in organic supply chains has impacted you.

TALKING POINTS:

  • This proposed rule is necessary and long overdue. I especially support the end to exemptions for uncertified handlers in the supply chain and the requirement of electronic import certificates.
  • I urge the USDA to finalize this rule as soon as possible and speed up the effective date so that the agency can start enforcing these rules to prevent fraud in organic supply chains.
  • For section 205.273(c), I urge the USDA to shorten the time frame allowed for an importer to submit an electronic import certificate into the ACES system. Allowing importers 10 days to file the electronic certificate after the shipment has reached a U.S. port could mean the difference between preventing fraudulent products from entering the U.S. and having to try to retrieve them once they have entered commerce.
  • I appreciate the proposed rule’s requirements that non-retail containers be labeled with more information about the organic status of products (section 205.307). But I urge the agency to expand this requirement to large non-retail containers such as trailers, tanks, rail cars, shipping containers, grain elevators/silos, vessels, cargo holds, freighters, barges, or other method of bulk transport or storage. Providing a visual indicator that these contain organic products serve as a valuable backstop to other methods, such as organic certificates, and provide one last opportunity to prevent unintended commingling or treatment with irradiation or other prohibited substances. I also urge the agency to investigate technologies that indicate whether containers have been opened or tampered with during shipping for large-scale shipments.

 


NOC & OFA Issue Press Release on Cost Share

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 26, 2020

Media Contact:
National Organic Coalition, Abby Youngblood, abby@nationalorganiccoalition.org, 646-525-7165
Organic Farmers Association, Kate Mendenhall, kate@organicfarmersassociation.org 202-643-5363

National Organic Coalition and Organic Farmers Association

Thank House Members for Their Bipartisan Letter to USDA Calling for Restoration of Organic Certification Cost Share Funding

Washington, D.C. – August 26, 2020 — Yesterday, 39 Members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) to urge the restoration of funding for the Organic Certification Cost Share program (OCCSP), and to extend all applicable program deadlines to ensure that farmers who are still dealing with COVID-19 impacts have ample time to access these funds.  The letter was led by Representatives Stacey Plaskett (D-VI), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), and Dan Newhouse (R-WA).  All signers of the letter are members of either the House Committee on Agriculture or the House Organic Caucus.

The letter is in response to the announcement on August 10 announcement by the FSA of the agency’s plans to reduce reimbursement rates for the organic certification cost share program, which provides reimbursements to organic farms and handling operations. The Federal Register notice stated that FSA is “revising the reimbursement amount to 50 percent of the certified organic operation’s eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $500 per scope,” because of lack of funding. The 2018 Farm Bill clearly set reimbursement rates at 75 percent of the certified organic operation’s eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $750 per scope.

“The National Organic Coalition thanks Representatives Plaskett, Davis, Brindisi and Newhouse for their leadership in organizing this letter calling on USDA to restore funding for this crucial organic program.” said Abby Youngblood, Executive Director at the National Organic Coalition. “Producers and other organic operations need this support now more than ever because they are faced with economic disruptions and loss of markets due to COVID-19.”

"The Organic Certification Cost-Share Program is especially important for small and mid-size organic farms,” said Kate Mendenhall, Director of the Organic Farmers Association. “Organic farmers scrambled this season to make sure healthy food was available for our local communities in a time of crisis.  This is a time when the USDA should be looking for ways to support organic farmers, not harm them."

This action by USDA is unwarranted and completely unacceptable. The 2018 Farm Bill provided new funding for the program and also directed USDA to use the program’s carryover balances from previous years to fund the program for fiscal years 2019 through 2023. Given these sources of funding, there should be plenty of funds available for the program’s operation in fiscal year 2020. Either USDA’s accounting for this program is flawed or the agency has redirected some of the organic certification cost share funding to other programs, in conflict with the funding directives in the 2018 Farm Bill. In addition, the FSA has done a huge disservice to the organic community in this time of crisis by delaying the release of funds by many months while organic operations struggle to stay in business as they weather a pandemic and loss of markets.

In addition, NOC and OFA urge organic operations to apply for certification cost-share assistance as soon as they are able to do so with their state agency or local FSA office: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/occsp/index

Operations have until October 31, 2020 to apply for funding. FSA has stated that “if additional funding is authorized at a later time, FSA may provide additional assistance to certified operations that have applied” for the organic certification cost share program.

About the National Organic Coalition:

The National Organic Coalition (NOC) is a national alliance of organizations working to provide a "Washington voice" for farmers, ranchers, conservationists, consumers, and industry members involved in organic agriculture. NOC seeks to advance organic food and agriculture and ensure a united voice for organic integrity, which means strong, enforceable, and continuously improved standards. The coalition works to assure that policies are fair, equitable, and encourage diversity of participation and access. Learn more at NationalOrganicCoalition.org.

 

About the Organic Farmers Association:

The Organic Farmers Association (OFA) provides a strong and unified national voice for domestic certified organic producers, by supporting a farmer-led national organic farmer movement and national policy platform, strengthening the capacity of organic farmers and farm organizations, and supporting collaboration and leadership among state, regional and national organic farmer organizations. Rodale Institute supports this initiative as fiscal sponsor and partner with OFA’s farmer leadership. Learn more at OrganicFarmersAssociation.org.


TAKE ACTION: ORGANIC ENFORCEMENT

DEADLINE: OCTOBER 5

We need OFA members to weigh in during the public comment period for the Strengthening Organic Enforcement proposed rule to make sure it gets finalized quickly and that the final rule is a strong as possible. 

COMMENT ON STRENGTHENING ORGANIC ENFORCEMENT RULE

Here’s how you can comment:

The fastest way to submit a public comment is through the federal government’s online system. This proposed rule has its own web page and you can click on the “Comment Now” button on the top right to enter your comment. You can either copy and paste your comment into the system or attach a file.

If you want to submit a hard copy of your comments instead (you don’t need to do this if you submit online), send it to:

Jennifer Tucker, Deputy Administrator, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Room 2642-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250-0268;  Fax: (202) 260-9151

What to include in your comment:

  • Make sure to include the docket number for this proposed rule in your written comment: AMS-NOP-17-0065.
  • Explain that you are an organic farmer and mention any specific concerns you have or examples of how fraud in organic supply chains has impacted you.

TALKING POINTS:

  • This proposed rule is necessary and long overdue. I especially support the end to exemptions for uncertified handlers in the supply chain and the requirement of electronic import certificates.
  • I urge the USDA to finalize this rule as soon as possible and speed up the effective date so that the agency can start enforcing these rules to prevent fraud in organic supply chains.
  • For section 205.273(c), I urge the USDA to shorten the time frame allowed for an importer to submit an electronic import certificate into the ACES system. Allowing importers 10 days to file the electronic certificate after the shipment has reached a U.S. port could mean the difference between preventing fraudulent products from entering the U.S. and having to try to retrieve them once they have entered commerce.
  • I appreciate the proposed rule’s requirements that non-retail containers be labeled with more information about the organic status of products (section 205.307). But I urge the agency to expand this requirement to large non-retail containers such as trailers, tanks, rail cars, shipping containers, grain elevators/silos, vessels, cargo holds, freighters, barges, or other method of bulk transport or storage. Providing a visual indicator that these contain organic products serve as a valuable backstop to other methods, such as organic certificates, and provide one last opportunity to prevent unintended commingling or treatment with irradiation or other prohibited substances. I also urge the agency to investigate technologies that indicate whether containers have been opened or tampered with during shipping for large-scale shipments.

 COMMENT ON STRENGTHENING ORGANIC ENFORCEMENT RULE  


August Policy Update

By, Patty Lovera, Policy Director

COVID-19 RESPONSE

The end of July and early August in Washington D.C. have been consumed by what will happen next in Congress to respond to the ongoing disruption caused by Covid-19. The House passed the HEROES Act in May, which would largely continue the approach from the CARES ACT (passed in March) of providing funding for USDA to make payments to producers, as well as some additional funding for things like protective equipment.

We have been waiting since May for the Senate to come up with their version of a bill. At the end of July, Senate leadership released a draft of their package. On many topics – unemployment insurance, aid to state and local governments, increasing SNAP benefits, and creating immunity from liability for businesses, healthcare institutions and schools – the Senate draft and the bill passed by the House are very different.

On agriculture, they are not all that different. The House bill uses a different source of money (the Commodity Credit Corporation) to fund USDA Covid-19 response, while the Senate bill would give USDA direct appropriations. The House bill has a few more strings attached to how the money should be spent than the Senate bill, but neither provides very strong standards for how USDA designs their programs.

At the end of last week, the leadership of the House and Senate and the White House were still negotiating about what will be in a final package, with major disagreements over the big economic issues that differ between the two bills. Once these big items are worked out, there may be some opportunity for members of the agriculture committees to weigh in and add more provisions related to the USDA programs. OFA continues to be in touch with members of Congress who are on the appropriations and agriculture committees to stay on top of this process and urge them to make sure these programs work better for organic farmers than the initial round of programs.

While Congress continues to debate what’s next, the USDA is still running two programs created by the CARES Act – the Farmers to Families Food Box (contracts to ship boxes of food to food banks) and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (direct payments to farmers for eligible commodities).

The USDA has opened a third round of contracts for the Farmers to Families Food Box and is now accepting bids. They have changed the requirements for this round, and now require contractors to deliver larger boxes (20-30 pounds of food per box) and are also requiring that each box contain a variety of meat, dairy and fruits and vegetables (previous rounds allowed contractors to provide 5 pound boxes with one type of product.) If you are interested in pursuing a contract through this program, check out the USDA’s website.

For the farmer direct payment (CFAP) program, you can get more information here, including which crops are eligible for direct payments (based on USDA’s assessment of whether they suffered a significant price drop between January and April.)  USDA has expanded the list of additional fruits and vegetables that are now eligible for direct payments to producers. The USDA recorded a series of webinars about this program, which might be useful if you are considering whether to apply.

 

 

STRENGTHENING ORGANIC ENFORCEMENT PROPOSED RULE RELEASED!

After many months of delay, the National Organic Program has released the proposed rule on Strengthening Organic Enforcement. In early August, the proposed rule was finally published in the Federal Register, which starts the clock on a 60-day public comment period, ending on October 5th.

This proposed rule is required by language that OFA supported in the 2018 Farm Bill, which gives the NOP additional authority to track imported organic products, including requiring imports to have an electronic import certificate. The need for better systems to prevent and detect fraud in both imports and domestic supply chains has been clear to OFA members for many years, as Harriet Behar’s article, The Tragedy of Fraud, on our website lays out.

The new proposed rule addresses not only the provisions required by the Farm Bill, but also other issues including:

  • applicability of the regulations and exemptions from organic certification;
  • import certificates;
  • record keeping and product traceability;
  • certifying agent personnel qualifications and training;
  • standardized certificates of organic operation;
  • unannounced on-site inspections of certified operations;
  • oversight of certification activities;
  • foreign conformity assessment systems;
  • certification of grower group operations;
  • labeling of non-retail containers;
  • annual update requirements for certified operations;
  • compliance and appeals processes;
  • and calculating organic content of multi-ingredient products.

You can read the proposed rule (or a summary) on USDA’s website (go to the “Supporting Documents” section near the bottom of the page).

OFA’s policy committee is working to do an in-depth analysis of the proposed rule and OFA will make detailed comments about ways to make the proposed rule even more effective, including decreasing the time importers would have to provide import certificates, expanding the requirement for indicating organic products on bulk shipping containers and speeding up the effective date of the rule.

 

TAKE ACTION ON ORGANIC ENFORCEMENT

We also need OFA members to weigh in during the public comment period for the Strengthening Organic Enforcement proposed rule to make sure it gets finalized quickly and that the final rule is a strong as possible.

Here’s how you can comment:

The fastest way to submit a public comment is through the federal government’s online system. This proposed rule has its own web page and you can click on the “Comment Now” button on the top right to enter your comment. You can either copy and paste your comment into the system or attach a file.

If you want to submit a hard copy of your comments instead (you don’t need to do this if you submit online), send it to:

Jennifer Tucker, Deputy Administrator, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Room 2642-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250-0268;  Fax: (202) 260-9151

What to include in your comment:

  • Make sure to include the docket number for this proposed rule in your written comment: AMS-NOP-17-0065.
  • Explain that you are an organic farmer and mention any specific concerns you have or examples of how fraud in organic supply chains has impacted you.

TALKING POINTS:

  • This proposed rule is necessary and long overdue. I especially support the end to exemptions for uncertified handlers in the supply chain and the requirement of electronic import certificates.
  • I urge the USDA to finalize this rule as soon as possible and speed up the effective date so that the agency can start enforcing these rules to prevent fraud in organic supply chains.
  • For section 205.273(c), I urge the USDA to shorten the time frame allowed for an importer to submit an electronic import certificate into the ACES system. Allowing importers 10 days to file the electronic certificate after the shipment has reached a U.S. port could mean the difference between preventing fraudulent products from entering the U.S. and having to try to retrieve them once they have entered commerce.
  • I appreciate the proposed rule’s requirements that non-retail containers be labeled with more information about the organic status of products (section 205.307). But I urge the agency to expand this requirement to large non-retail containers such as trailers, tanks, rail cars, shipping containers, grain elevators/silos, vessels, cargo holds, freighters, barges, or other method of bulk transport or storage. Providing a visual indicator that these contain organic products serve as a valuable backstop to other methods, such as organic certificates, and provide one last opportunity to prevent unintended commingling or treatment with irradiation or other prohibited substances. I also urge the agency to investigate technologies that indicate whether containers have been opened or tampered with during shipping for large-scale shipments.

COMMENT ON STRENGTHENING ORGANIC ENFORCEMENT RULE


Take Action for Organic Integrity!

Coronavirus is going to continue to dominate Washington, D.C., but we also need to make sure the rules and enforcement needed to ensure integrity of the organic label aren’t forgotten.

The USDA is past its deadline for a new proposed rule to prevent fraud in organic supply chains (the Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule required by the 2018 Farm Bill) and the deadline for finishing up the Origin of Livestock rule (about transitioning livestock into organic) is coming up fast.

Help us remind Congress they must make sure USDA meets the Congressional deadlines to protect organic integrity.

Right now, the best way to reach your members of Congress is email, since many congressional offices are working remotely. You can find contact information for your Representative at www.house.gov (use the “Find Your Representative” box at the top right and then go to your member’s website and look for a Contact tab) and your two Senators at www.senate.gov (go to the “Senators” tab and then “Contact” to find the Senators from your state.)

Ask your members of Congress to make sure USDA finishes these two rules ASAP:

  • The Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule is critical for preventing fraud in the organic supply chain and ensuring that U.S. organic farms can compete on a level playing field. During the disruption caused by the pandemic, it is more important than ever to show that the U.S. is taking organic enforcement seriously. The 2018 Farm Bill required USDA to complete the rulemaking by December 19, 2019, but the proposed rule is still under review by the Office of Management and Budget.  Can you help us move this forward in the rulemaking process?
  • The final rule on Origin of Livestock (OOL) is desperately needed to close loopholes in the organic standards related to the transitioning of conventional dairy cows into organic dairy operations. Through the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations process, Congress mandated that USDA complete the OOL final rule by June 17, 2020.  This deadline is fast approaching, and we need Congress to make sure that USDA finishes this rule as soon as possible.

Report back!

Email us to let us know what you find out!  Email us at: patty (at) organicfarmersassociation.org


May Policy Update: Coronavirus, NOSB & Action on Organic Integrity Rulemaking

By, Patty Lovera, Policy Director

The big news in DC, just like everywhere, continues to be the coronavirus pandemic, the impact on the food supply chain and how the government should respond. But there are other things happening in the world of organic policy, including the National Organic Standards Board spring meeting and continuing to push the USDA National Organic Program to finish rules we need to maintain the integrity of the organic label.

Pandemic Response

Congress passed the CARES Act in late March, which provides money that farms can access from two parts of the federal government, the USDA and the Small Business Administration. In late April, Congress passed another bill to provide more funding to the Small Business Administration programs because the original funding was spent very quickly due to high demand. You can see more details about the SBA programs here, but the most important update since last month is that farms can now apply to both the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

The USDA is still developing the rules for one of its programs, direct payments to producers for losses caused by the pandemic, and we don’t yet have any specific details for how farms can apply. Those rules are expected to be released very soon. A basic description of the payment program can be found here.

The USDA has released the details for its new program to buy farm commodities for distribution to food banks. The deadline for the first round of contracts was May 8th, but you can check out the USDA’s website for the deadline for the next round of contracts.

At some point, Congress will consider other spending bills in response to the pandemic. It still isn’t clear if the next package will be more specific on how departments like the USDA spend money or will just be a repeat of the broad strokes provided in the CARES Act. OFA has been sharing specific requests for organic funding with members of Congress to make the case for programs that will work better for organic farms.

National Organic Standards Board Meeting

At the end of April, the USDA’s organic advisory committee, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), held its spring meeting online. The previous week, more than 20 organic farmers and representatives from farm organizations gave public comments to the board through a webinar.  You can read testimony for OFA’s Director and Policy Director on our website.

You can keep an eye on the USDA’s website for the NOSB to see the transcript and records from the meeting when they are posted.

One of the hot topics at the meeting was the ongoing discussion about paper pots. The board considered a discussion document about whether paper pots can be used by organic farms. They did not vote on the issue, and the Crops subcommittee will continue working on their recommendation about which types of paper pots (based on paper source and adhesives) will be allowed. The director of the National Organic Program made a point to say during the meeting that the NOP has instructed organic certifiers that paper pots will continue to be allowed while the board continues is work on this issue.

Take Action for Organic Integrity!

Even though the coronavirus is going to continue to dominate lawmaker’s attention for a while, we also need to make sure that the rules and enforcement we need to ensure the integrity of the organic label aren’t forgotten. The USDA is past its deadline for a new proposed rule to prevent fraud in organic supply chains (the “Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule required by the 2018 Farm Bill) and the deadline for finishing up the Origin of Livestock rule (about transitioning livestock into organic) is coming up fast.

Click here to TAKE ACTION!

 


OFA & NOC ask USDA for more support for organic farmers during COVID-19

May 7, 2020

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi                                     The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Speaker                                                                     Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives                                  U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515                                             Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell                              The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
Majority Leader                                                         Minority Leader
United States Senate                                                 United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510                                              Washington, DC 20510

Dear House and Senate Leaders:

As you begin crafting the next coronavirus pandemic response package, we are writing with recommendations about actions needed to address the impact on the organic food and agriculture sector. We offer our recommendations with full understanding that all sectors of agriculture are now in crisis and that we must all work together to address these challenges.

We are deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on organic farmers, farmworkers, businesses, retailers, certifiers, organic inspectors, and consumers. We are mindful of the need to protect the health and safety of all who are involved in organic agriculture, certification, and compliance. We also seek to advocate for responsible actions that will protect the integrity of the USDA organic seal during this difficult time.

Because of the annual organic certification process and the need to protect the integrity of the USDA organic seal during this time of extreme market disruption, some of our concerns and recommendations may be unique from those raised by other sectors of agriculture.

Many of our recommendations were also suggested to Secretary Perdue as he developed his pandemic response package to implement the CARES Act but were not adequately addressed by that action.

Critical Rulemaking to Protect Organic Integrity Should Not Be Delayed by Pandemic

Two rulemakings that are critical to the economic health of the organic sector are in the final stages of clearance. Congress should reiterate the importance of publishing these two rules without delay:

  • The rulemaking to improve organic enforcement, both domestically and internationally, (aka the “strengthening organic enforcement” rule) is critical for the economic viability of the U.S. organic sector. This rule is more important now than ever to demonstrate that the U.S. is taking organic enforcement very seriously, so that fraudulent importers do not see the pandemic as opportunity to resume or expand fraudulent shipments. The 2018 Farm Bill required USDA to complete the rulemaking by December 19, 2019, but the proposed rule is still under review by OMB. This rulemaking must move forward.
  • The final rule on Origin of Livestock (OOL), to close loopholes in the organic standards related to the transitioning of conventional dairy cows into organic dairy operations, is another critical regulation for the organic sector. Through the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations process, Congress mandated that USDA complete the OOL final rule by June 17, 2020.

Direct Support for Organic Farms, Diversified Farms, and Farms Servicing Local Markets

On April 17th, Secretary Perdue announced a plan to distribute $16 billion in direct payments to farmers, with specific amounts designated for certain commodities and livestock categories, as one of USDA’s actions to implement the CARES Act.

We are concerned that the payment formulas used by USDA to distribute the payments and the rigid delineation of funding for specific commodity and livestock categories will shortchange organic farmers, particularly small-and-medium-scale diversified operations that have been economically impacted by the pandemic. We urge Congress, in the next coronavirus response package, to be more explicit about providing direct assistance to organic and diversified farming operations and to establish oversight procedures to ensure USDA compliance with the requirement. The CARES Act was very specific that one of the priorities for direct payment assistance should be “producers that supply local food systems, including farmers markets, restaurants, and schools.” In spite of that, the USDA action plan to implement the CARES Act did very little to address the needs of that sector of agriculture. Using conventional commodity and livestock product price losses is not a good proxy for the type of losses experienced by organic farmers and farmers serving local markets.

Related to this concern is the fact that price data is not as widely available for organic agricultural products as it is for conventional products, which could make it more challenging for organic farmers to prove their losses relative to baseline prices. In the short term, this points to the need for Congress to provide alternate ways of proving loss for organic farmers. In the long term, this demonstrates the need for Congress to increase annual USDA Agricultural Marketing Service funding for segregated organic price data.

For some farmers serving local and direct-to-consumer markets, sales have actually gone up as a result of the pandemic as consumers seek out local sources of food. However, in many cases, costs have also skyrocketed for these operations because of the additional investments in equipment, technology, sanitation, staffing, and transportation that must be made in order to meet social distancing and infection prevention protocols. Their incomes may be going up, but their margins may actually be declining.

Therefore, we recommend that payments for smaller organic, diversified, and direct-market operations be based on total farm revenue relative to previous years, which allows for local and organic price premiums to be taken into account. This would also be a way to address operations whose sales have gone up, but whose margins have declined.

Lastly, the USDA payment formula provides the majority of assistance for losses from January through April 15th, with a much lower level of assistance for losses from April 16th through the following two quarters. For most farmers, losses did not begin until states started to close schools, farmers markets, and restaurants and issued stay-at-home orders. The timeframe for calculating the losses should be better coordinated with the timeframe of actual losses.

Streamlined and Expanded Organic Certification Cost-Share Assistance

Annual inspection is a requirement for all certified organic operations, and a core component to maintaining the integrity of the organic label. While some aspects of those inspections are taking place remotely during the pandemic, some on-site inspections are still happening using social distancing protocols.

Because of the economic disruption related to the pandemic, many organic farmers and handlers cannot currently afford to pay their certification fees. The federal government already reimburses up to 75 percent of organic certification fees, with a maximum reimbursement of $750 per certification scope per operation. As an emergency measure, we recommend that instead of reimbursing the organic operation for certification fees paid to certification agencies, USDA should reimburse the certification agency directly for those costs. In addition, the 75 percent reimbursement should be increased to a 100 percent reimbursement during the pandemic.

One of the barriers of access to organic meat and poultry is access to slaughter and processing plant space. In addition to the normal regulatory hurdles impacting smaller meat and poultry processing plants, organic meat and poultry processing standards add additional hurdles that make it very costly for a processing plant to process organic products. Since these additional hurdles are costs necessary for organic certification, USDA should provide certification cost share assistance to help defray the cost of organic meat and poultry processing to remove hurdles in the supply chain for organic meat and poultry. In addition to assistance with the specific costs of certification, recordkeeping, and segregation of product necessary to produce certified organic products, these small-scale plants would also benefit from assistance that is needed for all small-scale plants, including USDA staffing levels that ensure adequate inspection coverage for small plants and technical assistance and small plant outreach from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Assistance to Dairy Farmers

Dairy is one of the leading sectors of organic. Congress should re-open the 2020 sign-up period for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) Program to allow new participants in the program. In addition, reopening the sign-up period would allow existing DMC participants to reconsider their coverage decisions for 2020 given the extraordinary and unforeseen dairy market collapse related to the pandemic.

Procedures for Donating Organic Food to Local Food Banks and Community Organizations

The agricultural product procurement and distribution plan announced by Secretary Perdue on April 17th does not work well for procurement and distribution of organic products to food banks and community organizations. The USDA plan operates primarily through existing wholesaler distribution firms who have been idled by the loss of food service markets related to the stay-at-home orders. While the USDA plan has no explicit prohibition on organic food distribution, the bidding process makes it challenging for food hubs and distributors of organic foods to win a bid.

We recommend that Congress establish a process for organic farmers, handlers or food hubs to be paid to distribute food directly to food banks and qualified community organizations. Either USDA would pay for the food directly or food banks would be given funds to procure local organic foods to fulfill their customers’ needs. Organic farmers are equally as impacted as other farmers by this crisis and market outlets for their products are equally important.

Protection and Reward for Front Line Workers and Businesses

Farms and food-related businesses have been designated as essential by the Department of Homeland Security and by most states. We agree with that designation. However, it is critical that we protect and reward those farmers, workers, and businesses who are providing these essential services during the pandemic.

Emergency grants should be provided to reimburse for expenses related to personal protection equipment (PPE) and pandemic-related facility, infrastructure, technology, and staffing modifications. Grants should be provided to farmers, farmers markets, organic certification agencies, small-and medium-scale grocery stores, including cooperative grocery stores, distributors, and small-and-medium-scale food processing plants.

In addition, federally funded pay bonuses should be provided to front line food system and grocery workers, to compensate them for their essential work under hardship conditions.

Flexibility in USDA Nutrition Program Rules and Spending Needed to Allow Low Income Consumers Greater Access to Nutritious Food During the Pandemic

In addition to refining the procurement process to be inclusive of all types of producers, as described above, we also urge Congress to increase funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is a critical tool for providing a safety net against hunger. We also urge you to make several specific refinements to SNAP and other nutrition programs to make sure that the benefits of these programs are spread equitably across everyone in the food supply chain.

  • Allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payments to be made online directly to farms, CSAs, and cooperative grocery stores.

USDA has granted pilot program status to some States to allow SNAP recipients to make purchases on-line for home delivery of groceries to reduce their exposure to the coronavirus. Unfortunately, in most cases, the only USDA-approved retailers that can process and deliver the purchases are very large retailers, such as Walmart or Amazon.

The SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot should be expanded to all states and additional food marketing outlets, including cooperative grocers, other small-and-medium scale grocery stores, and farms with direct-to-consumer sales capability. USDA should provide technical assistance to help small-and-medium-sized retailers, community supported agriculture (CSA) operations, and farmers set up online capability to accept SNAP.

  • Provide waivers and direction to States to broaden their WIC-approved food lists to allow WIC participants to purchase organic foods.

As the economic downturn deepens as a result of the pandemic, the percent of consumers eligible for low-income food assistance programs such as SNAP and WIC will continue to grow. As low-income consumers struggle to afford access to healthy, nutritious food during these hard times, Congress should increase funding for the WIC program to meet growing demand and to enable states to allow more organic foods on their state WIC-approved food lists.

Farm Labor Accommodations Are Critical to Continuing Production of Organic Food During the Pandemic

With regard to farm workers, Congress should:

  • Establish a program to provide relief workers for sick farmers and farmworkers.
  • Provide farmworkers who are currently employed on a farm with the same payments as any other workers without questions about their status as citizens, and make farmworkers eligible for paid sick leave, SNAP, health coverage, childcare, and workmen's compensation.

Funding for Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

  • Funding for the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs should be replenished, and procedures to ensure farmers’ access to both programs should be expanded.
  • Congress should clarify that expenses paid with forgivable PPP loans are tax deductible.

We thank you for your efforts to respond quickly to the needs of organic farmers, businesses, retailers, workers and consumers in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sincerely,

Abby Youngblood                                                                  Kate Mendenhall
Executive Director                                                                  Executive Director
National Organic Coalition                                                   Organic Farmers Association

 

 


ELECTION RESULTS ARE IN!

Thank you for voting for your regional representatives to the Governing Council & Policy Committee

Congrats to the newly elected members! Members will serve 2-year terms which will begin at our annual meeting this spring.

2020 GOVERNING COUNCIL

The Governing Council includes 19 members. The council includes 2 certified organic farmers and 1 organic farm organization from each of the six regions. In addition, Organic Farmers Association's fiscal sponsor, Rodale Institute, also has a seat on the council. All Council Members have identical rights and responsibilities, except that only farmer members have the right to vote. The fiscal sponsor, if it has a certified organic farm, also has a vote.

* = Newly elected

 

Farmers: Voting Members

California Farmer Representatives
Judith Redmond
Full Belly Farm, Guinda, CA

*Steve Beck
Kings River Produce, Inc., Hanford, CA

Midwest Region Farmer Representatives
Dave Bishop
PrairiErth Farm, Atlanta, IL

*Abby Lundrigan
Turner Farm, Cincinnati, OH

North Central Region Farmer Representatives
Mike Kelly
High Meadow Farm, Johnson Creek, WI

*Harriet Behar
Sweet Springs Farm, Spring Valley, WI

Western Region Farmer Representatives
Nathaniel Powell-Palm
Cold Springs Organics, Bozeman, MT

*Marcia Litsinger
Churchill Butte Organics, Silver Springs, NV

Southern Region Farmer Representatives
*Jennifer Taylor
Lola’s Organic Farm, Glenwood, GA

Loretta Adderson
Adderson’s Fresh Produce, Hephzibah, GA

Northeast Region Farmer Representatives
*David Colson
New Leaf Farm, Durham, ME

Maryrose Livingston
Northland Sheep Dairy, Marathon, NY

Advisory : Non-Voting

California Organization Representative
*Phil LaRocca, Chair
California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF)

Midwest Region Organization Representative
*Renee Hunt, Program Director
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA)

North Central Region Organization Representative
David Perkins, President
Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)

Western Region Organization Representative
Becky Weed, Board of Directors
Montana Organic Association (MOA)

Southern Region Organization Representative
*Keith Richards, Program Director
Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG)

Northeast Region Organization Representative
Ed Maltby, Executive Director
Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA)

Sponsor Seat
Maria Pop
Rodale Institute

 

2020 POLICY COMMITEE

The Policy Committee includes 18 members. From each of the six regions, the Policy Committee includes 2 certified organic farmers and 1 organic farm organization. All Committee Members have identical rights and responsibilities, except that only farmer members have the right to vote.

* = Newly Elected

Farmers: Voting Members

California Region Farmer Representatives
Kenneth Kimes
Greensward/New Natives, LLC, Aptos, CA

*Mark McAfee
Organic Pastures, Fresno, CA

Midwest Region Farmer Representatives
Michael Adsit
Plymouth Orchards & Cider Mill, Plymouth, MI

*Dave Campbell
Lily Lake Organic Farm, Maple Park, IL

Western Region Farmer Representatives
Nate Lewis
Oyster Bay Farm, Olympia, WA

*Pryor Garnett
Garnetts Red Prairie Farm, Sheridan, OR

Southern Region Farmer Representatives
Laura Freeman
Mt. Folly Farm, Winchester, KY

*Jennifer Taylor
Lola’s Organic Farm, Glenwood, GA

North Central Region Farmer Representatives
DeEtta Bilek
Tom and DeEtta Bilek Farm, Aldrich, MN

*Harriet Behar
Sweet Springs Farm, Gay Mills, WI

Northeast Region Farmer Representatives
Luke Gianforte
Gianforte Farm, Cazenovia, NY

*Dave Chapman
Long Wind Farm, Easy Thetford, VT

Advisory: Non-Voting

California Region Organization Representative
*David Runsten, Policy Director
Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Davis, CA

Midwest Region Organization Representative
*Molly Gleason, Communications Director
Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Springfield, IL

Western Region Organization Representative
Cara Loriz, Executive Director,
Organic Seed Alliance, Missoula, MT

Southern Region Organization Representative
Michael Sligh, Program Director
Rural Advancement Foundation International, Pittsboro, NC

North Central Region Organization Representative
*Roz Lehman, Executive Director
Iowa Organic Association, Des Moines, IA

Northeast Region Organization Representative
*Maddie Kempner, Membership & Advocacy Coordinator
NOFA-VT, Richmond, VT