Apr 24, 2024
Organic Week features speakers, Capitol Hill visits

The Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) Organic Week features two days of critical discussions on the issues and opportunities facing the organic sector and a day of advocating on Capitol Hill.

Organic Week, the association’s annual flagship event, is May 14-16. The event offers the organic community a once-a-year chance to come together, brainstorm and help chart the way forward for organic, according to the OTA.

The gathering of the organic industry comes at a pivotal time for the organic sector. Organic is now a $67 billion industry, a high-level mark. But with this growth comes new questions about how to effectively accelerate and sustain the momentum of the movement, according to a news release.

Tom Chapman
Tom Chapman

In keynote speeches, panel discussions and special break-out sessions, dozens of organic industry leaders and policy makers will take a close look at organic’s most pressing issues and priorities. Experts will explore current trends in the organic marketplace, the impact of competing labels and claims, federal and private actions to boost organic production, steps to ensure continuing improvement in organic standards, strategies to navigate the political environment of a Farm Bill and national election year, and much more.

“Organic Week is a unique opportunity for our members and organic stakeholders to join forces to keep organic advancing,” Tom Chapman, co-CEO of OTA, said in a news release. “Organic is confronting some deep challenges now, but the sector also has untapped opportunities to appeal to today’s health-focused and environmentally conscious consumers and educate them about the full scope of the benefits of organic.”

Matthew Dillon
Matthew Dillon

“Organic is a movement, one that prioritizes sustainable business practices, accountability, trust and transparency to consumers,” Matthew Dillon, co-CEO of OTA, said in the release. “Organic Week is the chance for organic stakeholders to connect, share ideas, hear from the experts and use their collective muscle to help organic expand.”

Conference highlights

Keynote speakers at the conference include top government officials and organic industry leaders. The latest data on the U.S. organic market will be released, and for the first time at Organic Week, breakout sessions homing in on specific organic categories will be offered.

The event’s schedule includes:

  • Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has been invited to speak about USDA’s investment in organic agriculture to grow the sector, and its steps to maintain strong and evolving organic standards.
  • Jenny Lester Moffitt, under secretary of agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, will brief on USDA’s Organic Market Development Grants which are designed to address the critical need for new market pathways in organic.
  • Jennifer Tucker, deputy administrator of USDA’s National Organic Program, will update on USDA’s new Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) rule, the most significant change to organic regulations since their inception.
  • John Berge, deputy administrator of Farm Programs for USDA’s Farm Service Agency, will discuss USDA’s efforts to support organic farmers and programs USDA is implementing to support the organic dairy sector.
  • John Foraker, CEO and Co-founder of organic baby food maker Once Upon a Farm, will share valuable insights on how organic can amplify its value and expand access to more households.
  • Eduardo Cuoco, director of IFOAM Organics Europe, will talk about Europe’s ambitious organic action plan and what insights the U.S. can gain from European strategies.
  • Top findings of OTA’s 2024 Organic Industry Survey, regarded as the most comprehensive measure of the American retail organic market, will be released.
  • Organic agricultural outlook sessions designed specifically for businesses and farmers navigating the organic market’s evolving landscape.
  • Other industry leaders appearing in the program include: Nicole Atchison, CEO of PURIS, maker of plant-based foods and ingredients; Stephen Shepard, CEO of organic poultry producer Farmer Focus; Hobbs Wolcott, president of the global organic ingredient distributor Trading Organic USA; and Paul Schiefer, president of the Amy’s Kitchen.

Awards, a run and Capitol Hill advocacy

The trade association’s Annual Organic Leadership Awards reception will be on May 14. This always inspiring event recognizes individuals who have shown outstanding leadership and vision in furthering the goals of the organic movement.

May 15 kicks off with a 5k loop around the National Mall. This CLIF BAR sponsored event is a great opportunity to exercise, see iconic D.C. monuments and have casual conversation with Organic Week participants, as well as administration and other Hill staff. Register here to attend.

Organic Week concludes with a day of advocacy on Capitol Hill when dozens of OTA members will meet with lawmakers to share how and why they should support organic. This day of visits is one of the most impactful ways an OTA member can make a difference on behalf of the entire organic industry.

The Organic Week headquarters hotel will be the Park Hyatt D.C. hotel, where all activities will be based. Registration for Organic Week is open.

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