The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is now accepting nominations for its annual Organic Leadership Awards, which recognize those who have made a significant difference to organic agriculture, industry and trade. First established in 1997, the program consists of three categories: the Organic Leadership Award for Growing the Organic Industry, an Organic Farmer of the Year Award and a Rising Star Award.
"Organic agriculture all starts with farmers, followed by the valuable contributions of innovators and entrepreneurs who help grow and expand the market," said Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of the Brattleboro, Vt.-based organization, adding that the awards "recognize movers and shakers, sometimes well known and sometimes unsung, who are playing an instrumental role in the organic sector."
- The Growing Organic Industry award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to growing the organic industry through work in such areas as consumer education and marketing, new market development, public relations, standards development, advocacy, and research.
- The Organic Farmer of the Year award honors a professional farmer who has made significant contributions to supporting and advancing organic agriculture and trade at the farm level, such as increasing the amount of land under organic management, expanding the number of farmers using organic practices, or advancing organic agriculture through farm policy advocacy, community education, or innovative land stewardship and technical practices.
- The Rising Star award pays tribute to an emerging leader who has distinguished him- or herself professionally through advancements to programs, initiatives, new categories, or product development promoting the growth, sustainability or influence of organic agriculture and trade.
Candidates must demonstrate skill, innovation, personal commitment, leadership and vision to expand organic agriculture or the organic sector. They also must have achieved identifiable and enduring changes to promote and protect organic agriculture and trade, and have inspired others to take up the cause as well. The awards will be presented this autumn at OTA’s Annual Awards Gala during Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore.
All nominations and letters of endorsement must be received by May 30.
OTA represents more than 6,500 organic businesses across 49 states, with members including growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants and retailers.