Published: June 19, 2024

Category: Market News

The Organic Trade Association recently recognized six individuals for their outstanding leadership, vision and commitment in advancing the organic movement and making a positive difference on their farms, in their communities, in our climate and environment, and in the lives and diets of millions of people throughout the world.

The distinguished 2024 Organic Leadership Award Honorees are: 

Founded in 1923 by Lou Ehrhardt, Minnesota-based Albert Lea Seed has been owned and operated by the Ehrhardt family for three generations, earning its first USDA organic certification in 1996. In 2022, the company purchased Blue River Organic Seed, to form the strongest lineup of organic field seed in the U.S. In 2023 Ehrhardt spearheaded another initiative aimed at serving organic farmers by investing in an independent corn breeding program focused on the needs of organic farms.

“I believe that the demand for organically raised food will continue to grow,” says Ehrhardt. “But we must actively work to encourage that growth by strengthening consumer confidence in the Organic label; addressing the issue of gene-editing from both a scientific and a consumer perspective; and reducing the carbon footprint of organic farming practices.”

Ehrhardt’s advice to future organic groundbreakers: “Work hard. Be nice to people. Keep an open mind. Be honest and own your mistakes. And to steal a line from Practical Farmers of Iowa, ‘Make your experiments small enough that you can afford to fail.’”

The Social Impact Leadership Award honors individuals who have made outstanding efforts to be a source of positivity and stability for customers and organic community members. The winner of this year’s award is Jyoti Stephens, Vice President of Mission and Strategy for Nature’s Path, who grew up listening to her parents—organic pioneers Arran and Ratan Stephens and founders of Nature’s Path—talk about the importance of growing food the healthy way and of contributing to the betterment of our communities and our planet.

“This amazing award is not just for me but for the foundational legacy of sustainability and organic advocacy that my family and the team members at Nature’s Path have built and pursued over the last 40 years,” says Stephen. “It serves as a reminder of the positive impact we can have when we hold ourselves accountable to a collective sense of responsibility.”

Organic & Non-GMO Insights June 2024