cows in field

The Organic Check-Off

OTA pushes its initiative through Webinars and mass mailings

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) conducted a webinar explaining their plans for taking the Check-Off through to the next steps. The presentation followed previous OTA organized webinars and meetings of being highly scripted with no real interest in feedback and a goal of updating and educating participants about where the OTA was in the process. The 27 participants who included the OTA presenters and staff were all muted but could type questions for the OTA group to answer verbally.

No real answers to the difficult questions were given - such as how the money was going to be collected from those not in the existing check-off program - but they had investigated whether organic producers could exempt themselves from both a conventional check-off and an organic one (the legislative language says you have to choose one or the other) and apparently their legal advice is that it can be done.
If the intent was to allow organic producers to continue to exempt themselves from all check-offs why put that in the language in the first place?

This is another area where we need a strong producer voice which has to be heard outside of the OTA process as it appears they will allow little real or effective input into their proposal, preferring to continue down their pre-determined pathway to a federal check-off program.