Small Farmers Gain Organic Industry Voice

The nation’s leading organics-industry trade association formed a Farmers Advisory Council to allow organic producers direct communication on industry matters.

by Dani Yokhna
The Organic Trade Association formally launched the Farmers Advisory Council to give small- and medium-scale farmers a voice in the organic industry. Photo courtesy Digital Vision/Thinkstock (
Courtesy Digital Vision/Thinkstock

The Organic Trade Association, a membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America, has formally established a Farmers Advisory Council to provide input from small- to medium-scale organic farmers, ranchers and growers to the trade association on matters geared toward advancing organic agriculture.

The OTA Farmers Advisory Council was designed to formalize and improve two-way communication between OTA and organic producers. Through dialog and upfront input, the council will give organic farmers a voice to directly influence OTA’s policy work and allow OTA to better represent the diversity of organic producers in its policy and advocacy work.

“One of OTA’s Core Values is the understanding that organic farms are the foundation of the organic industry,” says Perry Clutts of Pleasantview Farm, who holds the first designated Farmer Seat on OTA’s current board of directors and co-chairs the council.  “This advisory council will give organic farmers a vehicle to influence OTA’s policy and advocacy work,”

The new advisory council will be made up of active small- and medium-scale farmers who serve as representatives of sector, state and regional organic farming organizations. CCOF Inc., California’s full-service organic certification agency and trade association, is a founding member of the advisory council, with CROPP Cooperative, the U.S.’s largest organic cooperative, and the Organic Egg Farmers of America also signing on board. Other organizations will be encouraged to join.

“Our new Farmers Advisory Council institutionalizes the farmer’s voice in all OTA does to grow and protect U.S. organic agriculture in the fast-changing political environment,” says Matt McLean of Uncle Matt’s Organic, a fourth-generation citrus grower and president of OTA’s board of directors. He notes that while OTA’s membership has always represented the entire value-chain for organic, including farmers, this formal step makes that commitment clear.

Service eligibility defines a farmer as someone who owns, leases or is a partner in an organic farm, has a full-time functional role as an organic farmer, and derives his or her primary income from an organic farm. Interested organic farmers and state and regional organic-farming organizations should email OTA’s executive vice president Laura Batcha.

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