OFA sends letter to OTA in response to voluntary checkoff

Organic Farmers Association sent a letter to the Organic Trade Association in response to their announcement on the voluntary checkoff. Read the letter below:

November 29, 2019

Laura Batcha, CEO
Organic Trade Association
444 N. Capitol St. NW, Suite 445A
Washington, D.C. 20001

Dear Ms. Batcha,
Organic Farmers Association is committed to supporting the voice of certified organic farmers—they
continue to play a crucial role in growing and supporting the organic market nationally, and they must
be included as leaders in shaping the future of organic. We encourage you to
● invite certified organic family farmers to join your GRO Organic Leadership Committee,
● continue to solicit input from certified organic farmers on the proposed voluntary organic
checkoff, and
● share the collected results of your questionnaire with the organic community.
Organic Farmers Association has and will continue to share your request for feedback among our
organic farmer members up until the April deadline.

Organic Farmers Association will submit formal responses to your GRO Organic questions. We do
encourage you, as you continue to develop this program, to require that the majority of the board be
principal owner/operator farmers, and that they represent the diversity of commodity and size found
throughout the U.S. A farmer-majority board would appropriately reflect the composition of certified
operations in the U.S. and would ensure that research and technical assistance reach where we need it
most—at the farm gate. Farmers are committed to the values inherent in the organic market and need
strong processors and retailers that share that commitment to organic principles all the way through the
market chain. Including farmers in this capacity would go a long way toward ensuring the development
and implementation of a successful voluntary organic checkoff.

Farmers are the bedrock of the U.S. organic movement and market, and we hope that Organic Trade
Association includes a diversity of farmers in the leadership and creation of your voluntary checkoff.
While the gross sales of farmers may not compete with processor and retail sales, the number of
farmers far outweighs the number of either processors or retailers. Farmers are a key component of the
national organic movement and it is essential that real family farmers are invited to the table. From our
conversations with organic growers nationally, organic farmers want to have a place in the driver’s seat
to direct the future of the organic market, organic research priorities, and organic technical assistance
and education. A voluntary checkoff could be the opportunity for them to do so.

We look forward to seeing more certified organic family farmers engage in the development of the
Organic Voluntary Checkoff. We know you will agree that organic farmers are a crucial piece of the
movement and we hope the checkoff design will keep their best interests in mind.

Kate Mendenhall

CC: GROideas@ota.com