U.S.: OTA drives move toward voluntary organic check-off

September 06 , 2018

The U.S. Organic Trade Association has announced an "engaged and bold plan" to move forward with a voluntary industry-invested organic research, promotion and education check-off program.

It said the program will be collaboratively designed and implemented by organic stakeholders across the supply chain.

"The Organic Trade Association recognizes great demand for coordinated organic research and promotion, and the organic sector is ready to work together on innovative solutions that will have key benefits for organic," said Laura Batcha, OTA CEO and executive director.

"In today's political environment, organic companies and stakeholders are increasingly seeking private sector solutions, and the trade association is taking the lead in supporting these efforts.

"There is a critical need to educate consumers about organic, for more technical assistance to help more farmers transition to organic, and to loudly promote the organic brand. Responding to that need, we are launching a two-track effort to develop a voluntary governance approach and to also advance initiatives that will deliver immediate big wins for the organic sector."

The trade association has formed a Steering Committee to coordinate and lead the efforts.

The committee is charged with addressing the governance questions around a voluntary program to maximize good participation and decision making, and also to bring together right now multi-pronged private efforts to foster coordinated organic research and promotion.

Helping organic GRO

"These big ideas all live under the banner of GRO— shorthand for Generate Results and Opportunity for Organic," said Batcha.

"Everyone in our organic industry has a stake in eliminating consumer confusion, growing the market, and building the organic brand, so we'll work collectively to ensure the future of organic."

The Steering Committee established two subcommittees to guide the process - a Governance subcommittee and an Immediate Programming subcommittee.

The Immediate Programming subcommittee will identify programs to advance organic, and coordinate and fund those programs immediately.

These prototype programs will invest in critical needs and serve as proven projects for investment when a formal voluntary program rolls out.

Already collaborative programs are being developed and funded. The OTA is joining forces with Organic Voices and the group's "It's Not Complicated" campaign to fund a nationwide message drive to reduce the confusion about organic.

The goal for the campaign is to raise a minimum of US$1 million for each of the next two years.

 

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