Four industry leaders will be honored at All Things Organic™ - Organic Trade Association
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Four industry leaders will be honored at All Things Organic™


GREENFIELD, Mass. (April 30, 2002) – The Organic Trade Association (OTA) will recognize four organic industry leaders during award ceremonies at its All Things Organic™ Conference and Trade Show, slated for May 8-11 in Austin, Texas.

Selected to receive OTA Organic Leadership Awards are Bená Burda of Maggie’s Organics/ Clean Clothes, Dave Riebling of Oak Manor Farms-Ontario, Mark Retzloff, and Bob Scowcroft of the Organic Farming Research Foundation. They will be honored at OTA’s Awards Dinner Saturday evening, May 11, in Austin.

Bená Burda of Maggie’s Organics/Clean Clothes has been chosen to receive a Special Pioneer Award for her pioneering work, particularly with organic fiber products. Nomination letters cited her work to introduce the first certified organic corn chips, to develop organic fiber products and fiber standards, to be the first to sell socks made with domestically produced certified organic wool, and to encourage and support a woman’s sewing cooperative in Nicaragua.

 “She succeeded in convincing various organic corn growers to introduce organic cotton as their cover crop, which accomplished an often unattainable goal of having a cover crop that was revenue generating. Bená also pioneered the development of a post-harvest production system and certification protocols for organic cotton manufacturing and processing,” wrote Philip Margolis of Neshaminy Valley Natural Foods in his nomination of Burda. He also cited her as “a main architect of OTA’s Proposed Fiber Standards and has worked many volunteer hours to develop the best organic fiber standards in the world.”

Chosen to receive an Organic Agriculture Award, Dave Riebling of Oak Manor Farms is a farmer and grain processor from Tavistock, Ontario, Canada, and a founding member of OTA. 

 In his nomination of Riebling, Joe Smillie of Quality Assurance International wrote, “He developed his own processing facility in order to sell his organic products after he had converted the family farm to organic methods. His farming and processing activities led him to begin trading in grain and pulses from Saskatchewan and other prairie province organic farmers. His enterprise never became ‘big business,’ but remains a strong, diversified, viable direct farm enterprise, and a model for small farms.” 

Mark Retzloff, a founder of Horizon Organic Dairy and past president of OTA, will receive an Outstanding Individual Achievement Award. Retzloff is being honored for his leadership in the industry, including serving key roles in the Organic Trade Association, and founding and leading Horizon Organic Dairy until his retirement from the company.

“Mark had the vision to be an early believer in the need for national organic standards. He was the catalyst that brought together the representatives of the leading companies in organic retailing, manufacturing, distribution, and certification to debate the necessity and content of organic standards,” wrote William R. Knudsen, immediate past president of OTA. Knudsen also cited Retzloff’s efforts to help organize an industry alliance first to promote the establishment of national standards and later to represent the industry in a united organization, the Organic Trade Association.

Meanwhile, Bob Scowcroft of the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) will receive a Legislative and Regulatory Award. Nomination letters cited his work as a founding member of OFRF and his overall devotion to the organic industry.

“If it had not been for Bob Scowcroft and Mark Lipson, I may never have engaged in the organic debate. It was Bob’s farsightedness in 1988 that caused him to send Mark Lipson to Washington, DC, to meet with Senator Leahy’s office and pitch the idea of a national organic program. But Bob was not interested in government solutions alone. He had the vision to start OFRF—a vehicle for private citizens to organize and fund critical research and education needs of the organic industry,” wrote Kathleen Merrigan, who, when serving as administrator of USDA’s Agricultural Market Service, shepherded the final rule implementing national organic standards.

In past years, OTA’s Board of Directors has selected one individual, inside or outside the organic industry, who has demonstrated leadership and vision in furthering the goals of organic agriculture for the OTA Leadership Award. This is the second year that OTA has solicited nominations for a variety of award categories. Recipients of OTA’s Leadership Award are honored with a hand-blown glass planet by well-known artist Josh Simpson.

The awards will be presented at OTA’s awards ceremony Saturday evening, May 11 Dinner tickets are required for the event. Tickets may be ordered when attendees fill out their conference registration forms.

April 30, 2002

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