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Policy Conference 2018 Schedule

Thursday, May 24

7:00 - 9:00 a.m.    
Loop the Lincoln – 5.6K Fun Run

8:00 – 9:00 a.m.  
Media Breakfast – By invitation

2018 Policy Conference
National Press Club
529 14th St. NW
Washington, D.C.

The Organic Trade Association’s Policy Conference explores the complex interactions that cause resistance and create momentum for the future of organic. Our event puts policy perspectives up against the latest examples from the private sector for a close look at the energy behind organic.

8:45 a.m.
Registration Opens

9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Organic Networking Breakfast
Holeman Lounge

9:30 - 9:40 a.m.
Welcome and Setting the Stage
Organic Trade Association's Board President Kim Dietz (Senior Manager for Environmental, Natural and Organic Policy at The J.M. Smucker Company) and CEO/Executive Director Laura Batcha will kick off our Policy Conference.

Future of Organic 

9:40 a.m.
Shifting Sands Forecast –Trends Shaping the Organic Industry
Using a unique compilation of military intelligence and chaos analytics, trend forecaster Suzy Badaracco of Culinary Tides Inc. has been able to successfully predict and profile food trends. Badaracco, who is also a chef, registered dietitian and former criminologist and toxicologist, will share big picture dynamics that are likely to shape consumer perception and behavior, particularly as it relates to the organic sector.

10:05 a.m.
CEO Roundtable: Innovations in Organic and Staying Ahead of your Consumer
Consumer product company and organic industry leaders discuss how the private sector is navigating among gridlock to move the needle, looking ahead at the economic and social issues that will need to be addressed to keep up with consumer demands. This dynamic and engaging session will draw inspiration from the Middle Path member exercise earlier in the week.

  • Discussion Leader: Gary Hirshberg, Co-Founder & Chief Organic Optimist, Stonyfield Organic
  • Luis Acuña, President & CEO Viva Tierra Organic, Inc.
  • John Brunnquell, President, Egg Innovations
  • Carla Vernon, President, Natural & Organic, General Mills
  • Tyler Lorenzen, President, PURIS

10:35 a.m.
Congressional Keynote
Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey’s sponsorship of the Organic Agricultural Research Act of 2018 demonstrates great leadership and a keen understanding of the needs of organic farmers across the nation. He has a unique perspective on the opportunities and challenges for U.S. agriculture as a whole, and for organic in particular in the upcoming Farm Bill deliberations.

International Trade

11 a.m.
International Keynote
Ambassador Darci Vetter, former Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, will provide the latest on trade agreements and other issues germane to international trade in organic. Vetter is currently General Manager, Public Affairs | Vice Chair, Agriculture, Food and Trade at Edelman.

11:25 a.m.

11:40 a.m.
Morning Breakout Sessions

Track 1 – International Trade Update
First Amendment Lounge
This session will provide a market snapshot on U.S. organic exports and imports, updates on regulatory changes with key trading partners, including NAFTA, and a discussion on the role of trade and oversight in the U.S. organic industry. The session will start with key facts and figures, and conclude with a Q&A discussion.


  • Monique Marez, Organic Trade Association’s Director of International Trade
  • Adam Cull, Organic Sector Specialist at Agriculture and Agrifood Canada

Track 2 – Farmers Advisory Council and Grains Council Joint Meeting
Murrow Conference Room
In this combined sector council meeting, Farmers Advisory Council and Grain, Pulse, and Oilseed Council members will have the chance to contribute to the work of the U.S. Organic Grain Collaborative’s investigation into the barriers to growing domestic supplies of organic grains. One of the ongoing efforts is to facilitate adaptive learning networks for farmers that include peer learning as well as links to new innovations in research, technology, and marketing. Feedback and suggestions from council members will help to answer the question of what it will take to replicate these networks across U.S. grain-growing regions in both the public and private sector.
(Open to Council Members only)

12:25 p.m. 

12:35 - 1:35 p.m.
Working Lunch
Engage with your colleagues in casual and informal discussions on topics you are passionate about. Table topics will be provided on current issues. There will also be tables available for those preferring not to participate in topical discussions.

Presentation of 2018 Organic Champion Award

Following lunch, the Organic Trade Association will present the 2018 Organic Champion Award for excellence in advancing organic agriculture through public service. 

1:35  p.m.
Organic in the Media
Some of the nation’s leading food and agriculture journalists will discuss what it’s like to cover their beats in today’s environment. The Organic Trade Association’s CEO/ Executive Director Laura Batcha will have a rare opportunity to switch roles and interview the panel about organic, food and ag policy, and what has them fired up.

  • Discussion Leader: Laura Batcha, Organic Trade Association's CEO/Executive Director 
  • Helena Bottemiller Evich, Senior Food and Ag Reporter, Politico
  • Philip Brasher, Senior Editor, Agri-Pulse
  • Sam Fromartz, Editor-in-Chief, Food & Environment Reporting Network
  • Tamar Haspel, Food Columnist, The Washington Post
  • Andrew Martin, Investigative Reporter, Bloomberg

2:20 p.m.

2:35 p.m.
Afternoon Breakout Sessions

Track 1 – Bold Steps: Today’s Advocacy, Tomorrow’s Industry
Murrow Conference Room
Did you know the Organic Trade Association has nine member task forces, four sector councils, three working groups, and seven member forums, which helped us submit comments to NOSB, USDA, and Capitol Hill on more than 40 topics in the past year? Your engagement helps us accomplish our daily mission to promote and protect ORGANIC! While we plug in on specific issues throughout the year, it is important to remember our long-term vision: Grow ORGANIC to achieve excellence in agriculture and commerce, protect the environment and enhance community well-being. Come learn about OTA’s BOLD STEPS to accomplish this vision, then help us strategize the specifics. Session outcomes will be delivered to the Board of Directors’ strategic planning process.

  • Gwendolyn Wyard, Organic Trade Association's Vice President, Regulatory and Technical Affairs 
  • Monique Marez, Organic Trade Association's Director, International Trade 

Track 2 – Farm-level Innovations in Organic Agriculture
First Amendment Lounge
Organic agriculture poses a host of unique challenges, and growers and researchers are answering the call at the farm level. This Organic Trade Association Farmers Advisory Council-sponsored panel discussion will focus on farm-level research and innovations that are keeping organic cutting edge.

  • Discussion Leader: Kelly Damewood, Policy Director, CCOF Inc.
  • Ken Dallmier, President, Clarkson Grain Company Inc., Blockchain technology project
  • Dr. Dionne Toombs, Director, USDA Office of the Chief Scientist – USDA supported innovation
  • Darrell Wood, Owner, Leavitt Lake Ranches  - Land use solutions


Organic Integrity

3:30 p.m.
Recognizing Industry Pioneers in Supply Chain Integrity
Join the Organic Trade Association’s Board President Kim Dietz and Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Affairs Gwendolyn Wyard, co-chairs of the Global Organic Supply Chain Integrity Task Force, for some exciting news surrounding organic integrity.

3:50 p.m.
The Latest News from NOP and NOSB
Jennifer Tucker, Ph.D., Associate Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program, will report on the latest news and developments from the National Organic Program and the National Organic Standards Board.

4:20  p.m.
Integrity and The Future of Organic – How does Blockchain Weigh In?
What is blockchain and how can it move organic food and ag to the forefront of transparency and integrity? Jessi Baker, CEO of Provenance, will help us understand the answers to these questions, and challenge us to engage in some visionary thinking about the future of organic.

4:45 p.m.
Closing Remarks