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Public Servant Award

The Organic Trade Association Public Servant Award was established in 2009 to recognize and honor individuals in government who have been supportive of organic agriculture and trade. The award is presented at OTA’s Policy Conference and Hill Visit Days in Washington, D.C. 

Senator Jeff Merkley

2016 Public Servant Award Honoree

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) was awarded OTA's 2016 Public Servant Award to recognize his critical work to protect organic standards. As the Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Merkley has long been a champion of funding for organic priorities. He has also been a steadfast champion of maintaining the integrity of the organic rulemaking process – in particular, during spring 2016, he was the critical backstop who prevented the introduction of an amendment that would have delayed the National Organic Program from finalizing and implementing the Livestock and Poultry Practices proposed rule.
 

“What we see across America is a growing movement of people who want to be thoughtful about how they eat...they are voting more and more in favor of buying and consuming organic foods...I've been excited to help champion this effort.” 
                                --Senator Jeff Merkley at OTA's 2016 Policy Conference

Senator Merkley also serves on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee; the Environment and Public Works Committee; and the Budget Committee. He was elected to the Senate in 2008. Prior to becoming a United States Senator, he served in the Oregon State House of Representatives (including as Speaker).


Senator Debbie Stabenow

2014 Public Servant Award Honoree

Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan was awarded OTA's 2014 Public Servant Award for her outstanding and critical support of the organic industry throughout her career. Sen. Stabenow, the Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, plays a pivotal role in crafting federal agricultural policy and shepherding its passage. Her leadership has led to a historic new focus on organic priorities in the 2014 Farm Bill that was passed earlier this year.
 

“We want you to be successful and we want you to grow the economy as well as grow your products and make your product.” Stabenow told the attendees of the policy conference, who represented the entire swath of the diverse organic industry. “I believe we will have a strong economy with the success of your industry.” 
                                --Senator Debbie Stabenow at OTA's 2014 Policy Conference

Stabenow was first elected to Congress in 1996 and the Senate in 2000. When the Farm Bill was being drafted in 2012 and again in 2013, Stabenow was a strong advocate for organic, including the technical fixes regarding organic research and promotion orders, funding for a technology upgrade at the National Organic Program, and funding for data collection. Stabenow also played a critical role in ensuring that a new Farm Bill was passed, not just an extension of the previous legislation as happened in 2012 and 2013. Without her strong leadership, American agriculture as a whole could still be drifting from extension to extension. Read OTA's full press release.

Congressman Sam Farr

2012 Public Servant Award Honoree

Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA) has been a member of Congress since 1993 and a major supporter of the organic sector for more than three decades. He has provided strong, continuous leadership on issues facing the organic industry through his roles as co-chair of the House Organic Caucus and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture.
 

“OTA’s Board of Directors is honored to recognize Congressman Sam Farr with OTA’s Public Servant Award for his unwavering support and advocacy for organic farmers and the organic sector.”  
                           --Melody Meyer, Vice President of Global Initiatives for UNFI  

Congressman Farr has successfully championed funding for programs critical to the organic sector including the National Organic Program, as well as research and data collection. The organic sector has grown by double-digits over the last two decades, and Congressman Farr’s support of the regulatory, research and market data collection at USDA has enabled the industry to grow, create jobs and provide consumer choice in the marketplace.

Senator Sherrod Brown

2011 Public Servant Award Honoree

Senator Sherrod Brown, a first-term Democrat from Ohio, received OTA’s highest award for a public servant in 2011 for playing a key role in OTA’s legislative successes during 2010. Senator Brown sponsored the Organic Pilot Program, added to the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act by the Senate Agriculture Committee without opposition. This program authorizes $10 million for competitive grants for schools to incorporate organic foods in their meal offerings. Additionally, he and his staff worked to ensure that organic interests were included in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. Specifically, he included an amendment to the traceability and record-keeping section of the bill to allow for food directly marketed from farmers to consumers or to grocery stores and food labeled with the identity of the farm which produced it. That amendment also prevents FDA from requiring any farm to keep records beyond the first point of sale when the product leaves the farm, except when farms co-mingle product from multiple farms.

Congressman Collin Peterson

2010 Public Servant Award Honoree

Rep. Collin Peterson (MN-7), former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, received OTA’s highest award for a public servant in 2010. Congressman Peterson was recognized in large part for championing the organic provisions developed by OTA for inclusion in the 2008 Farm Bill. These provisions supported the growth of domestic organic agriculture through funding for research, data collection, and cost-share certification, as well as for additional money for the National Organic Program.
 
OTA was truly excited at this opportunity to honor Congressman Peterson for his assistance in growing this sector of our nation’s food supply. He has been a strong supporter of organic agriculture, and played a vital role in shaping the 2008 Farm Bill to give organic the largest gains, both in mandatory and discretionary spending, that it has ever gotten.

Contact
Vice President, Communications
(802) 275-3828

 

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