New association aims to be voice for America’s organic farmers
A newly formed Organic Farmers Association (OFA) aims to represent organic farmers throughout the United States, lobby for their interests in Washington, DC and help advance organic agriculture nationwide.
OFA was the focus of an educational session at the Organic Farming Conference held in February in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.
“This organization is here for organic farmers and by organic farmers,” said Theresa Podell, co-owner of Prairie Road Organic Farm in North Dakota, and co-chair of the OFA steering committee.
Michael Sligh, program director at the Rural Advancement Foundation International, emphasized that OFA will complement other organic farming and food advocacy groups, such as the Organic Trade Association.
“We have many good non-profit partners in the organic industry,” he said. “There is a real need to hear the clear voice of the farmer separated from the needs of the (organic) industry.”
OFA’s mission is to “provide a strong and unified national voice for domestic certified organic producers with the purpose to build and support a farmer-led national organic farmer movement and national policy platform.”
OFA has been launched in partnership with the Rodale Institute, which is providing financial support to the association.
Each certified organic farmer will have a vote in OFA’s policy initiatives, regardless of the size of the farm.
OFA’s steering committee has focused to ensure the association represents organic farmers of all sizes and types of production, and from all regions of the U.S.
“We want this organization to look like the United States of organic farmers which is very diverse,” Sligh said. “There are many ethnic groups, women, and farms big and small. We want it to be reflective of who we are and to understand the needs of farmers nationwide.”
Jim Riddle, owner of Blue Fruit Farm and former chairman of the National Organic Standards Board, is the steering committee chair.
“Part of our vision is to go out to all certified organic producers and see what the trends are on the ground,” he says. “We want to have a grassroots structure and be well positioned to lobby in Washington, DC.”
For more information about the Organic Farming Association, visit www.organicfarmersassociation.org.