OTA Policy Conference & Hill Visit Days - Organic Trade Association
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OTA Policy Conference & Hill Visit Days


Policy conference Logo

May 21-22, 2014 | Washington, D.C

Highlights from OTA's 2013 Policy Conference and Hill Visit Days

Stabenow to provide firsthand rundown of Farm Bill markup

Congressman Kurt Schrader among the featured speakers at OTA’s Policy Conference

Join us as we visit Capitol Hill May 15!

Check out these top-notch speakers headlining OTA’s signature policy event

U.S. Organic Agricultural Production Highlighted at OTA Policy Conference

Dr. Woteki, USDA's Chief Scientist, to speak at OTA's Policy Conference

FDA Deputy Commissioner Mike Taylor returns to OTA Policy Conference to address organic sector

Secretary Vilsack headlines a host of compelling speakers at this year’s OTA Policy Conference

PC logoDuring OTA’s signature policy event, participants will hear from and speak to legislators on issues vital to organic agriculture and trade. This two-day event is part of OTA’s “Organic Week in Washington,” a series of activities coordinated to raise the profile of organic on Capitol Hill.

Given the challenges and opportunities ahead for organic, it is critical that the sector proactively reaches out to elected officials and other policy influencers in our nation's capital. The opportunities for advocacy, networking and education this event affords are unparalleled.

You make a difference for organic when you come to Washington, and help spread the word that organic is nourishing America’s families, revitalizing our communities, and growing the nation’s diverse economy

Organic Week in Washington Calendar of Events

Download Full Policy Conference Schedule

Tuesday, May 14, The Newseum
Please use 6th street entrance, marked Freedom Forum.
555 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC 20001

Time Event
8:00 a.m. Registration and Networking
Continental breakfast available
Note: Hill Visit schedules will be available at registration, but are subject to change given the Farm Bill markup. Final meeting schedules will be confirmed Wednesday morning at the Hall of the States.
8:30 a.m.

Conference Opening
Christine Bushway, CEO/Executive Director, OTA; Matt McLean, CEO, Uncle Matt's Organic, OTA Board President

8:45 a.m. Miles McEvoy
Deputy Administrator, USDA National Organic Program
9:15 a.m. Organic Data: Consumer Driven | Farmer Powered | Together we Thrive
Laura Batcha, Executive Vice President, OTA
9:40 a.m. Review Legislative Asks
Marni Karlin, Director of Legislative and Legal Affairs, OTA
10:00 a.m. Dr. Catherine Woteki
Under Secretary, USDA Research, Education, and Economics
10:30 a.m. Congressman Kurt Schrader
Democratic Representative for Oregon's 5th congressional district and ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture
11:00 a.m. Organic Research and Promotion Program Working Session: Options for a Framework
Panelists: Robynn Schrader, CEO, National Cooperative Grocers Association; Marty Mesh, Executive Director, Florida Organic Growers; Melissa Hughes, General Counsel, Organic Valley; Kim Dietz, Manager Regulatory Compliance, Smucker Natural Foods.
Moderated by Melody Meyer, VP Policy and Industry Relations, UNFI. 

Optional Networking Break
12:00 p.m. Lunch
Perry Clutts, Co-chair, OTA’s Farmers Advisory Council and Farmer Seat, OTA’s Board of Directors
1:00 p.m. More Organic Not Less: Keeping Farmers in Organic
Panelists: Mac Stone, Chair National Organic Standards Board; Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator, USDA National Organic Program; Jake Lewin, Chief Certification Officer, CCOF Certification Services LLC; Jenneke DeJong, Farmer, Bonanza View Dairy. Moderated by Brise Tencer, Policy Director, CCOF Inc.

International Trade Listening Session
Panelists: Kelly Strzelecki, International Economist, USDA; Bob Anderson, Founder, Sustainable Strategies —Advisors in Food & Agriculture and Senior Trade Advisor, OTA; Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator, USDA National Organic Program; Cheri Courtney, Director, Accreditation and International Activities Division, USDA NOP. Moderated by Jessica Poingt, Senior International Trade Manager, OTA.
2:15 p.m. GMO Labeling
Gary Hirshberg, Chairman, Just Label It

2:45 p.m. Organic Political Action Committee
Christine Bushway, CEO/Executive Director, OTA; Kelly Shea, Vice President of Government and Industry Relations, WhiteWave Foods and Organic PAC Co-Chair.
3:00 p.m. Mike Taylor
Deputy Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration
3:30 p.m. Congressman Chris Gibson
Republican Representative for New York’s’ 19th congressional district
4:00 p.m. Secretary Tom Vilsack
United States Secretary of Agriculture
4:30 p.m. Senator Debbie Stabenow
Democratic Senator for Michigan and Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
5:00 p.m. Conference Close
5:15 p.m. Group Photo
Senate Park
5:30 p.m. Organic PAC 2013 Donor Reception
Johnny's Half Shell

Wednesday, May 15, Hall of the States

444 North Capitol Street, Washington, DC 20001

Time Event
8:00 a.m.
Registration, Networking
Continental breakfast available
Note: Please begin your day at the Hall of the States to confirm your Hill Visits schedule.
8:30 a.m.
Review Legislative Priorities
Marni Karlin, Director of Legislative and Legal Affairs, OTA
9:00 a.m.
Groups depart for Capitol Hill visits
11:30 - 2:00 p.m.
Lunch available at the Hall of the States
5:00 p.m.
Goodbye toast at the Hospitality Suite

2013 highlights
will include:

  • Hear USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack share his perspectives on diversity in agriculture and the future of organic food and farming.
  • Learn about implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act and arsenic limits in food and beverages from FDA Deputy Commissioner Mike Taylor.
  • Be a part of a focus group weighing in on an initial framework of options for a potential Organic Research and Promotion Program.
  • Choose from a variety of breakout sessions on leading-edge issues ranging from small producer barriers to international trade to GMO labeling.
  • Network with your colleagues, and enjoy organic food and libations at a fundraiser for the sector’s Political Action Committee— Organic PAC.
  • Hit the Hill for meetings with members of Congress and their staffs to discuss the impact of your business on the economy, and advocate for fair funding for the organic sector.

Conference Speakers

Pingree Tom Vilsack
As the nation’s 30th Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, Vilsack administers programs and policies that shape all aspects of agricultural production, trade and nutrition. As a member of the Presidential Cabinet, the Secretary is responsible for keeping the President informed of issues in U.S. agriculture, and for making policy recommendations as these issues emerge.


Michael Taylor
Michael R. Taylor was named deputy commissioner for foods at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in January 2010. A nationally recognized food safety expert, Mr. Taylor has served in numerous high-level positions at FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as a research professor in the academic community, and on several National Academy of Sciences expert committees studying food-related issues.


Miles McEvoy
Miles McEvoy has served as Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program (NOP) since October, 2009. In his role, he is responsible for regulating the organic industry – the fastest growing segment of U.S. agriculture. For more than 20 years, McEvoy led the Washington State Department of Agriculture's Organic Food Program, one of the nation's first state organic certification programs. McEvoy also helped establish the National Association of State Organic Programs (NASOP).


Dr. Catherine Woteki
Dr. Catherine Woteki is Under Secretary for the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area, as well as the Department's Chief Scientist. Before joining USDA, Dr. Woteki served as Global Director of Scientific Affairs for Mars, Incorporated, where she managed the company's scientific policy and research on matters of health, nutrition, and food safety.


Kurt Schrader
Congressman Kurt Schrader represents Oregon’s 5th Congressional District. Mr. Schrader is the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture, which has jurisdiction over organic agriculture.


Debbie Stabenow
Elected to the United States Senate in 2000, Senator Stabenow is respected for her ability to build coalitions to get things done. As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and a member of the Senate Energy, Finance, and Budget Committees, she has a powerful and unique role to play in shaping our nation's manufacturing and agriculture policies.

Participating Companies

ArgiSystems International :: AIW Management, LLC :: Amy's Kitchen :: Annie's, Inc. :: Applegate Farms, LLC :: Attune Foods :: Aurora Organic Dairy :: California Natural Products :: CCOF :: Chino Valley Ranchers :: CIRANDA :: Clif Bar & Co :: Congressional Research Service :: CROPP Cooperative :: Davis Wright Tremaine LLP :: Driscoll's :: Elmwood Stock Farm/National Organic Standards Board :: Florida Organic Growers :: Frontier Natural Products Co-op :: Garden of Life, LLC :: General Mills :: Grain Place Foods, Inc.:: Grimmway / Cal-Organic Farms :: Horizon Organic :: Herbruck's :: High Quality Organics :: Indiana Certified Organic :: J.M. Smucker Company :: Kamut International :: Late July Organic Snacks :: Left Coast Naturals :: Lundberg Family Farms :: Mercaris :: Michael Torrey Associates, LLC :: MOM's Organic Market :: National Cooperative Grocers Association :: Natural Grocers :: Nature's Path Foods Inc. :: New Chapter :: New Hope Natural Media :: OMRI :: On the Mark Public Relations :: Organic Farming Research Foundation :: Organically Grown Company :: Organic Valley :: Oregon Tilth :: Pennsylvania Certified Organic :: Pleasantview Farm :: Purity Organics, Inc.:: QAI, Inc. :: Quality Assurance International :: Richard D. Siegel Law Offices :: Rodale Institute :: Shandiz Trading :: Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, LLC :: Small Planet Foods :: Stonyfield Farm :: SunOpta, Inc. :: Sustainable Food Trade Association :: The Organic Center :: Uncle Matt's Organic, Inc :: Under the Canopy/Portico Brand Group :: United Natural Foods Incorporated :: U.S. Food and Drug Administration :: Vitins Consulting :: WhiteWave Foods :: Whole Foods Market :: Wholesum Family Farms :: Wolf, DiMatteo + Associates

The Newseum
OTA’s Policy Conference and Hill Visit Days will kick off on May 14 at the Newseum — Washington, D.C.’s 250,000-square-foot museum of news. There, participants will learn about the issues making news in organic from Members of Congress, agency chiefs and other influencers.

Hill Visits

Equipped with the knowledge gained during the Policy Conference, attendees will gather at the Hall of States – OTA’s home in D.C. – on May 15 before deploying to Capitol Hill for pre-arranged meetings with legislators alongside industry peers. Fueled by consumer choice, organic is the future of farming. Be there to tell Congress about the prosperity and growth created by the organic industry through the hard work and determination of its members.

OTA is also hosting two webinars to give participants advance training on how to prepare for Hill meetings, including reviewing general objectives and talking points, and explaining what to expect from a meeting with your Representative, Senator, or staff.  The webinars will be held on April 16 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern / 10:00 a.m. Pacific; and on April 24th at 3:00 p.m. Eastern / 12:00 p.m. Pacific.  Please pick the time that is most convenient and RSVP by contacting Cathleen Strong once you have registered for OTA’s Policy Conference and Hill Visit Days.

In addition, we look forward to setting up Hill visits with Members of Congress who represent the interests of you, your company, and the organic industry.  To facilitate that, attendees should contact
Marni Karlin, OTA’s Associate Director of Legislative and Legal Affairs. 

Show your support of Organic Week in Washington
OTA is seeking sponsors and providers of farmer scholarships for its annual Policy Conference and Hill Visit Days.  With sponsorship opportunities offered as low as $1,500, this is a great opportunity to showcase your company as a supporter of organic on the Hill.  Will you help us tell our elected officials that organic is nourishing America’s families, revitalizing our communities, and growing the nation’s diverse economy?  View the
Organic Week in Washington Sponsor Opportunities outline or contact Amy Bovaird for additional details.

Highlights from Organic Week in Washington 2012
Last year, participants turned out in record numbers to tell Congress about the prosperity and growth created by the organic industry through the hard work and determination of its members.

                            2013 OTA Policy Conference & Hill Visit Days

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow


2014 Annual Fund

Research and Promotion 2012