The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is asking for input from industry stakeholders regarding a voluntary organic checkoff program. The association recently announced a six-month endeavor to hear from the organic community on the most efficient way to implement a “checkoff like” program in the organic sector. The private-sector initiative dubbed GRO Organic, which is short for Generate Results and Opportunity for Organic is aimed at assisting the organic industry in areas of research, education, and promotion.
“We want GRO Organic to be a bold and engaged opt-in program that pools resources from everyone who can contribute so that we can collectively address critical needs across the organic sector,” Executive Director and OTA CEO Laura Batcha said in a news release. “The need for more investment in organic is widely agreed upon—how we solve for it is what we must now work together to determine.”
OTA made the announcement to begin working toward a voluntary organic checkoff program through the industry itself back in September. Earlier in the year U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that the USDA would not be moving forward with a mandatory checkoff program after OTA had submitted an application for a federal mandate in 2015.
Four prototype programs have been established in an effort to jumpstart the voluntary checkoff program. The programs will enable further investment into areas of critical need and serve as a guide for a formal checkoff type of system. The programs will include further research into soil health and climate change and funding more organic extension agents. OTA will also be joining the “It’s Not Complicated” campaign from Organic Voices to hopefully raise at least $2 million over the next two years. The pilot programs are set to launch in January 2019.
The comment period will continue until April 19, 2019. Those looking to contribute their ideas and comments can do so electronically through the OTA website.