OTA Holds First Congressional Education Day - Organic Trade Association
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OTA Holds First Congressional Education Day


GREENFIELD, Mass. (0ct. 4, 1999) – Representatives of various segments of the organic industry converged on Washington, D.C., last week to meet with members of Congress during the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) first Congressional Education Day.

The main aim was to educate congressional representatives about issues related to organic agriculture, and, particularly, to urge the adoption of national organic standards that fit in with industry practices.

Meeting with participants, Kathleen Merrigan, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service, was unable to predict when USDA will release its latest version of national organic standards for adoption.

"Secretary Glickman has said that organic is just about our highest priority. We’ve got people working around the clock on this." Merrigan said. "I think we’re very close to getting a proposal out of the door at USDA. And I think it is going to reflect the opinions that came to USDA in December 1997—the 275,603 opinions, to be exact."

Merrigan added, "It has been a painstaking process because we really want to be true to all those people who took time sitting around their kitchen tables to write their concerns regarding the proposed rule."

Mark Retzloff, OTA president, noted that he and Merrigan have worked on developing national organics standards for over a decade.

"To me, it’s wonderful that Kathleen is going to be the one that brings this one home," Retzloff said.

Also on hand, OTA Executive Director Katherine DiMatteo said, "One of the reasons we’re here is to show that organic is here to stay. We’re not just a flash in the pan, nor are we are little segment. We want to demonstrate that organic is part of the fabric of agriculture, and we want to be part of any program that would benefit the U.S. consumer. We’re here to communicate that message."

The day’s schedule included a breakfast strategy meeting, meetings with U.S. Senators and Representatives, and an evening reception on Capitol Hill, catered by Nora Poullion, for members of Congress and their staffs.

October 4, 1999

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