The Organic Trade Association's updated mission is to grow and protect organic offerings with a unifying voice.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is redefining leadership, both in its makeup and messaging. The Washington, D.C.-based group shared board changes and its new mission and vision statements during a recent membership meeting.
A new board of directors has been seated at OTA for the 2023-2024 term, consisting of 15 organic industry experts across the sector. Tracy Favre, VP of sustainability for live operations at Handsome Brook Farms, LLC is the new board president. A 30-year industry veteran and longtime OTA member, Favre served on the National Organic Standards Board from 2012 to 2017 and was a global director for the international organic certification company Quality Assurance International.
Adam Warthesen, director of government and industry affairs for Organic Valley, will serve as the board’s VP, while Britt Lundgren, senior director of sustainability and government affairs for Stonyfield, is the next secretary. Domenic Borrelli, president of premium dairy for Danone North America, takes on the role of treasurer. The board welcomed two new members for the upcoming term: Heidi Diestel, president of sales and marketing at Diestel Family Ranch in California, and Ed Fish, VP and general manager of varietal solutions at Bay State Milling.
Other board members include Doug Crabtree, owner of Vilicus Farms; David Lively, pioneer emeritus of Organically Grown Company; Paul Schiefer, president of Amy’s Kitchen; Matthew Dillon, founder and owner of Risk to Reliance Strategy; Ann Marie Hourigan, quality standards principal advisor at Whole Foods Market; Mike Menes, VP of food safety and technology at True Organic Products; Johanna Phillips, technical director at Ecocert; Kellee James, founder and CEO of Mercaris; and Daniella Velazquez de León, general manager of Organics Unlimited. Each elected board member serves a three-year term.
“We heartily welcome our new board president and board, and look forward to working with these dedicated volunteer leaders to keep moving organic forward,” said OTA CEO Tom Chapman. “Our new board is an extremely committed and accomplished group of visionary organic leaders who will work together with members and staff to achieve OTA’s mission of growing and protecting organic.”
Also during the June 28 meeting, OTA released its updated mission and vision statements that were approved by the board earlier this year. The new organizational mission is to “grow and protect organic with a unifying voice that serves and engages its diverse members from farm to marketplace.” The group’s revised vision is “A world where ORGANIC is the foundation of agriculture resulting in a healthy and resilient future for all people, animals, businesses, and the planet.”
Favre said the statements succinctly reflect the group's and the industry’s evolution. “Our vision describes a world where organic principles and practices are accessible, celebrated, and widely adopted and embrace organic agriculture's potential to address many pressing challenges today, from improving public health to mitigating climate change. We want to encourage farmers, businesses, and others to join us in pursuing a healthier, more resilient, and sustainable world with organic at its foundation,” she declared.
In other OTA news, the group has been chosen as a national partner for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Transition to Organic Partnership Program. OTA will be a “lead cooperator” for the project, a key part of the USDA’s $300 million Organic Transition Initiative announced in 2022.