Organic Check-Off Efforts Continue with Voluntary Program

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is moving forward with a voluntary industry-invested organic research, promotion, and education program
OTA led efforts over the past couple years to create a national certified organic marketing order under USDA: GRO Organic. The program was initially proposed by OTA in 2015 and USDA released the proposed rule in 2017. Almost 15,000 public comments were received on the proposed rule. However, this spring USDA unexpectedly terminated the rulemaking process of the program before a referendum vote of all organic producers subject to the program was held.
OTA will move forward with the GRO program with two goals: 1) to advance initiatives that will deliver immediate big wins for the organic sector and 2) to develop a voluntary governance approach for a check-off style program. 
Current programs underway include:
Partnership with Organic Voice’s “It’s Not Complicated” campaign to educate consumers on organic;
Conduct in-depth consumer research on the most effective ways to reinforce the organic brand;
Advance a portfolio of soil health and climate change research to fill in knowledge gaps and show the beneficial impacts of organic; and
Provide the necessary funding to leverage more organic extension agents across the country.
The GRO Organic Steering Committee will also open a public commenting period this fall. Stakeholders will be able to provide feedback on how the program can receive maximum participation and what investments to make.
For more information and for questions regarding the program, contact Maggie McNeil.