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The Organic Trade Association (OTA) will honor Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) with its 2011 Public Servant Award next month. Brown, a first-term senator, will receive OTA’s highest award for a public servant during the Brattleboro, Vt.-based trade group’s 2011 Policy Conference and Hill Visit Days in Washington. OTA board president Julia Sabin and Tim Smucker, both of Orrville, Ohio-based Smucker Natural Foods, which has its headquarters in Brown’s district, will bestow the honor during conference sessions on April 6.
Describing Brown as “a true friend and supporter of the organic industry,” OTA executive director and CEO Christine Bushway added, “He and his staff have been more than willing to reach out to OTA about any legislation that would impact or present opportunities for the industry.”
Brown’s support played a pivotal role in OTA’s legislative successes during 2010, the organization said. Among his actions was sponsorship of the Organic Pilot Program, which was added to the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act by the Senate Agriculture Committee without opposition. The program authorizes $10 million for competitive grants for schools to incorporate organic foods in their meals. Brown and his staff also worked to ensure that organic interests were included in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. In particular, he included an amendment to the traceability and recordkeeping section of the bill to allow for food directly marketed from farmers to consumers, or to grocery stores and food labeled with the identity of the farm that produced it. The amendment additionally prevents FDA from requiring any farm to keep records beyond the first point of sale when the product leaves the farm, except when farms commingle product from various farms.
Brown was elected to the Senate in 2008 after serving 13 terms in the House of Representatives. He is chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development and Family Farms, and a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies.
Established in 2009, the Public Servant Award recognizes individuals in government who have displayed outstanding support for organic agriculture and trade. The award was first given to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in 2009. The 2010 recipient was Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.).