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The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has formally established a Farmers Advisory Council (FAC) to garner input from small- to medium-sized organic farmers, ranchers and growers on issues geared toward advancing organic agriculture.
“One of OTA’s core values is the understanding that organic farms are the foundation of the organic industry,” explained Perry Clutts of Pleasantview Farm in Circleview, Ohio, 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 advisory council will consist of active farmers of small- and medium-size operations acting as representatives of sector, state and regional organic farming organizations. CCOF Inc. (California Certified Organic Farmers) is a founding member of the council, with La Farge, Wis.-based CROPP Cooperative and the Organic Egg Farmers of America also on board. Additional organizations are 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,” noted Matt McLean of Clermont, Fla.-based Uncle Matt’s Organic, a fourth-generation citrus grower and president of OTA’s board. McLean added that while OTA’s membership has always represented the entire value chain for organic, including farmers, this formal step reinforces that commitment.
Those eligible to join own, lease or are partners in an organic farm; have full-time functional roles as organic farmers; and derive their primary income from organic farms.
Brattleboro, Vt.-based OTA represents more than 6,500 organic businesses across 49 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers’ associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others.