Food Economics Division
Economic Research Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1800 M St., NW., Room N2163
Washington, DC 20036-5801
December 17, 2010
RE: Notice of Intent To Request New Information Collection; Notice and request for comments
Dear Ms. Ralston:
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) thanks the Economic Research Service for this opportunity to comment. OTA is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers’ associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members, and our mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy (http://www.ota.com/).
OTA is interested to know whether farm-to-school efforts are involving organic farms, and if so, to what extent and in what geographic areas. To that end, we would like ERS to include an item regarding procurement of organic food in its survey. This is similar but substantially different from the proposed question regarding whether schools have a “Requirement of Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) certification.” It is similar in that it is a question about the certification of food being procured. However, OTA would not expect a school district to have a requirement that only organically produced food be procured, but would expect, based on press reports, that some school districts have some kind of a preference for organically grown food.
Therefore, OTA requests that ERS include a survey item under “Types of activities” that says, in substance:
“Preference for organically grown food.”
Thank you very much for your consideration.