Organic Farmers Association: Washington D.C. Annual Meeting and Lobby Day

Thirty members of the Organic Farmers Association leadership met in Washington D.C. recently to plan for the upcoming year and to participate in a Lobby Day advocating for the policy priorities of U.S. certified organic farmers on Capitol Hill.

On Monday, April 9, the Policy Committee finalized draft Organic Farmers Association policy positions (submitted by domestic certified organic farmers) and prepared for the lobby day.

On Tuesday, April 10, Organic Farmers Association completed their first D.C. fly-in the day before House Agriculture Committee Chairman Conaway (R-TX) released his draft of the 2018 farm bill.

Over twenty members of the Organic Farmers Association Policy Committee, Steering Committee, and newly-elected Governing Council were among the first to be briefed by Chairman Conaway’s staff on changes to organic policy that he planned to release the next day. To read our farm bill draft analysis, click here. The group also met with Senior staff for House Agriculture Committee Minority Ranking Member Peterson (D-MN), Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Roberts (R-KS), and Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Stabenow (D-MI), and heard from the House Budget Committee staff on farm bill programs that lack baseline funding.

Organic Farmers Association leadership includes a high percentage of past-National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) members and we were able to advocate for the importance of the NOSB from the farmer-members’ perspectives—a view that needs more visibility in their offices.

OFA members had over 50 meetings with their Senators and House members from California, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wisconsin.

OFA representatives also met with USDA National Organic Program senior staff to encourage increased enforcement and attention to ensuring organic integrity on imported grains and domestic dairy and pasture rule compliance. OFA farmers also met with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff about dicamba and the concern for increased drift incidences for organic growers in the 2018 growing season. Dicamba is in its second year of its conditional use permit and will be under close review this summer.

Organic Farmers Association closed the day with a presentation for the House Organic Caucus and then a social hour for caucus members and other Washington, D.C. organic organizations who we work closely with to advocate for a stronger organic movement and market.

On Wednesday, April 11 and Thursday, April 12, the leadership committees were back to work culminating the work of the Steering Committee as it prepared to pass power to the newly elected Governing Council The group reviewed our 2017 successes and 2018 work priorities as well as final organizational policy updates to set the project on solid foundational footings. The Governing Council passed project Bylaws and a Code of Conduct for staff and leadership. We also worked as a group to focus in on some brainstorming for strategic 3-5 year goals for the movement and how Organic Farmers Association may best target our resources to make a difference in strengthening the voice and exposure of certified organic famers at the national level.

Thank you to our leadership who made our first annual meeting and lobby day a success, and thank you to our membership for allowing us to give a voice to organic farmers in these important national policy discussions.