The Organic Trade Association is holding town-hall forums across the country to gather industry thoughts about the association’s proposal to establish a federal organic research and promotion order.

One such forum will be held during the Washington State Horticultural Association’s annual meeting in Yakima at the end of the afternoon organics session on December 4.

The Organic Trade Association, a membership-based business association for the organic industry in North America, represents businesses across the organic supply chain and addresses all things organic, including food, fiber, personal care products, and other new sectors. Earlier this year, the OTA board of directors decided to see if there is industry support to establish a new organic research and promotion check-off program.

Federal research and promotion programs are similar to marketing orders, with oversight by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but they are not as broad in scope and activity as marketing orders. Eighteen research and promotion boards are currently in place, including programs for beef, eggs, fluid milk, mushrooms, and watermelons.

OTA, according to its Web site, believes that a research and promotion program would help distinguish organic in the marketplace, increase demand, and help the consumer understand all that organic delivers—goals OTA believes require collective resources and coordination beyond those currently available to industry.

Reasons given to support a research and promotion program, detailed on OTA’s Web site, include:

  • a protracted recession, tarnished trust in the organic seal, and blurred distinction between organic and unregulated natural and eco-labels that have contributed to slowed industry growth now averaging less than 6 percent annually instead of 20 percent
  • a need to share growing research evidence pointing to the attributes of organic
  • a need for sustained resources and coordination to help consumers connect the dots about the benefits of organic

OTA began holding town-hall style forums across the country in October to gather industry input. Already, meetings have been held in western ­Washington, Florida, and Montana. After the meeting held in conjunction with the Hort Association’s annual ­meeting in December, the road show continues to ­California, Oregon, and Wisconsin.

Learn more about the research and promotion initiative and upcoming meeting dates by visiting the OTA Web site at or call Laura Batcha, executive vice president, at (802) 275-3827.