What began in 1985 as the Organic Foods Production Association of North America (OFPANA) with a group of determined individuals seeking a way to build a trusted identity for organic products has become the nearly 1,600-member Organic Trade Association (OTA).
The Organic Trade Association, North America's only organization dedicated to representing the views of all segments of the organic industry, is the industry's voice to lawmakers and the public.
OTA continues to work closely with other organizations to spread the word about the importance of organic production methods in the overall health of the environment and the economy, and to safeguard the integrity of what organic stands for through industry guidelines and standards.
Services and Activities:
Cultivate organic standards
One of OTA’s first accomplishments was the publication of Guidelines for the Organic Food Industry in 1986. Subsequently revised in 1989, these helped lay the groundwork for the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990 adopted by Congress as part of the 1990 Farm Bill.
Over the years, OTA has refined its guidelines. As a result, OTA's Board of Directors in October 1999 adopted a revised and updated version, known as the American Organic Standards. OTA member companies are expected to comply with the provisions outlined in the American Organic Standards, as well as U.S. national organic standards.
OTA submitted its industry guidelines to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as the latter worked to create a regulation to implement OFPA. In December 2000, USDA published the National Organic Program rule implementing OFPA. Full implementation of the rule took place in Oct. 21, 2002. OTA continues to work closely with USDA’s National Organic Program and fully supports their work in implementing the national organic standards.
For more information: http://www.ota.com/standards/aos/index.html
Advocate for organic legislation
Members of OTA have always worked hard on Capitol Hill to push the organic agriculture agenda forward. Among OTA’s successes have been the passage of the Organic Foods Production Act in 1990, important organic provisions in the 2002 Farm Bill, the repeal of section 771 in the 2003 Appropriations Omnibus, and organic appropriations attention every year since 1990. OTA’s members continue to cultivate relationships with their Members of Congress through OTA advocacy events like today’s Congressional Education Day, our spring Hill Visit Day, an annual Organic Farm Tour, and a newly launched Bring Your Legislator to Work Month event.
Promote organic agriculture and products
Since 1992, OTA has sponsored Organic Harvest Month, a national promotion of organic food and agriculture through regional and local events and a national media campaign each September. In 1998, OTA published The Organic Pages North American Resource Directory. More recently, OTA has converted this to an searchable online directory, The Organic Pages Online. OTA sponsors numerous opportunities to elevate the exposure of its 1,600 business members. For more information: (http://www.theorganicpages.com)
Host Industry Trade Show
In 2001, OTA held its first All Things Organic Conference and Trade Show in May in Austin, Texas. This has become an annual event, moving to McCormick Place in Chicago in 2004. The 2005 show itself, with approximately 450 booths, featured a diverse range of products, from gourmet chocolate bars and super premium ice cream, to bountiful fresh produce, organic bison, beef and pre-cooked grab-and-go chicken, pet treats, exotic oils and nuts from around the world, wine and spirits, personal care and candles, and high fashion, everyday clothing and household linens in new and never before seen organic fibers.
For more information: http://www.organicexpo.com/.
Monitor International Equivalence
OTA is an active member of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, or IFOAM, and has monitored international organic standard equivalence for years. OTA has a strong relationship with USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service and currently coordinates all U.S. organic promotion oversees with an USDA Market Access Program (MAP) grant. Canada unveiled its National Standard for Organic Agriculture in 1999, but because the standard is currently voluntary, international acceptance of Canadian organic products cannot be ensured. OTA is active on Canada’s Organic Regulatory Committee, which includes representatives of national, provincial and regional organic organizations, certifiers and businesses. OTA and its Canadian Council support Canada's National Organic Strategic Plan, and are participating in coalition efforts to implement its provisions.