Fall 2022 ORGANICREPORT Waju CEO Chris Oates has a Refreshing Take on Upcycling Meet the Next Generation of Organic Entrepreneurs
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OTA.COM 3 Contents FRONT PIECE 5 Action Meets Aspiration DATA & INSIGHTS 6 O rganic Market Basket A Closer Look—Pricing Pressures 20 A dvancing Organic in Climate-Smart Agriculture Programs 24 S tudy: U.S. Organic Has Work to do Abroad on Trust LEADERSHIP 8 O TA Welcomes Two New Board Members 10 O TA Diversity Council Engages Staff and Members in a Commitment to Racial Equity 14 J EDI Program Supports Organic Innovators Getting Certified UPDATE FROM CCOF 12 M oving the Needle on Expanding Organic in California LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS 18 M id-Term Elections Loom Large Over Next Farm Bill 36 G et to Know Your Policymakers—Spotlight on Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson 44 2 023 Farm Bill Policy Priorities for Organic THE ORGANIC CENTER 30 Climate-Smart, Organic Practices Build Soil and Improve Farming Under Changing Conditions 32 T he Benefits of Organic Spices, Herbs and Teas— An Upcoming Report from The Organic Center MEMBER COMMUNITIES 40 Trade Association Members Fight Fraud to Protect Organic ORGANIC WORLDWIDE 47 G row Your Organic Business Through International Trade END NOTE 50 Organic: Sustainable, Regenerative, and so Much More DEPARTMENTS 28 Exit Interview— Alexis Carey 6 14 16 20
Fall 2022 ORGANIC REPORT 4 We are the Organic Trade Association Together, we grow organic JOIN US Contact us for more information on how joining our connected community can help you grow your business and strengthen the organic sector (831) 234-5710 | membership@OTA.com
5 OTA.COM HAPPY FALL! While the days are growing shorter and many are turning toward cozy spices and teas (more on that in a bit), we still have plenty of work to do for organic in the last few months of 2022. This edition of The Organic Report begins with deeply inspiring stories about new members of the trade association, Waju Water (cover) and Green Heffa Farms (page 16). Both came to OTA through the thoughtful outreach and efforts of our Diversity and Entrepreneurship program. The program attempts to answer two questions simultaneously— how to grow organic, and how to address historic underrepresentation in our industry—by actively listening to BIPOC organic entrepreneurs and tailoring products and services to meet their needs. Did you know that organic is the original climate-smart agriculture? Many do not, despite the fact that the system is based on building soil health and working in harmony with natural systems. Just in time for trade show season and holiday gatherings, you can brush up on your organic = climate-smart talking points with Dr. Sciligo’s thoroughly researched article on page 30. It’s almost farm bill time, and in preparation for that, Megan DeBates is in with three pieces of interest. The first walks us through possible mid-term election outcomes and implications for organic. The second introduces us to Congressman GT Thompson from Pennsylvania (fourth largest state for organic), who is likely to be a big player in the upcoming negotiations. Finally, Megan lays out a full slate of organic priorities for the upcoming bill (page 44). After years of supply chain pressure and tight labor markets, prices are on the rise, including for organic. The Market Basket (page 6) offers a glimpse of what we’re seeing to date, and OTA’s CEO, Tom Chapman, shares his vision for how to keep the label relevant to shoppers, even when consumer spending power is diminished (page 50). OTA has two spectacular new board members, and if you haven’t had a chance to meet Johanna Phillips and Daniella Velazquez de Leon, please go directly to page 8 to learn more. These leaders are dynamic, motivated, and deeply dedicated to organic. It’s so exciting to have them in our corner! Finally, it’s time to brew a mug of your favorite organic tea and dig in with the latest from The Organic Center—a sneak peek at forthcoming research outlining the many benefits of organic spices and teas (page 32). Here’s to a bountiful harvest season for organic. Angela Jagiello Publisher Angela Jagiello Action Meets Aspiration Front Piece OTA BOARD OF DIRECTORS president Paul Schiefer • Amy’s Kitchen secretary Britt Lundgren • Stonyfield Farm treasurer Domenic Borrelli • Danone North America Doug Crabtree • Vilicus Farms Kim Dietz • Firmenich Inc. Matthew Dillon • Farmer Focus Tracy Favre • Fig Hill Farm Consulting Ann Marie Hourigan • Whole Foods Market Kellee James • Mercaris Bob Kaake • Slice of Kaake Consulting David Lively • Organically Grown Company Michael Menes • True Organic Products Johanna Phillips • Ecocert Daniella Velazquez de Leon • Organics Unlimited Adam Warthesen • CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley contributors: Alexis Carey, Tom Chapman, Adrienne Messe, Danielle Coté, Megan DeBates, Reana Kovalcik, Katrina Hunter, Stephanie Jerger, Amber Sciligo, and Rebekah Weber. publisher: Angela Jagiello copyeditor: Jonea Gurwitt design: LLM Publications Copyright © 2022, Organic Trade Association Printed on paper from sustainably managed forests with inks that are 30 percent renewable. The Organic Report is published by Organic Trade Association as a service to its members and the organic community. Re-publication of short excerpts is permitted without fee. Contact OTA staff to arrange for the use of longer material. The material contained in this magazine is for the information of the organic community. Although the information is believed to be correct, OTA disclaims all responsibility for any damage or reliance on the information contained in this publication, nor is the appearance of advertisements a warranty, endorsement or approval of the products or services advertised. Organic Trade Association does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation or marital/family status. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information, should contact us at info@ ota.com. ORGANIC TRADE ASSOCIATION headquarters: Hall of The States, 444 N. Capitol St., NW Ste 445A, Washington, DC 20001 phone: 202-403-8520 locations Brattleboro, VT • Santa Cruz, CA • Corvallis, OR web: www.ota.com • email: email@example.com TheOrganicReport.com
Fall 2022 ORGANIC REPORT 6 AVERAGE RETAIL PRICE AVERAGE RETAIL PRICE % CHANGE* DOLLAR VOLUME INCREASE* (DECREASE) UNIT VOLUME INCREASE* (DECREASE) Apples (4 lbs.) $6.50 18.6% 14.9% (3.1%) Bananas (2 lbs.) $1.44 6.1% 10.7% 4.3% Carrots (5 lbs.) $4.00 (1.3%) (9.2%) (8.1%) Packaged Salad (5 oz.) $3.41 3.8% 3.4% (0.4%) Butter (16 oz.) $5.49 0.5% (7.5%) (7.9%) Eggs, Large (dozen) $4.70 2.6% (4.3%) (6.7%) Milk (half gallon) $4.07 2.5% (3.6%) (6.0%) Orange Juice (52 oz.) $4.91 6.8% 19.9% 12.2% Yogurt (32 oz.) $4.37 0.1% 6.6% 6.4% Almond Milk (32 oz.) $2.68 0.8% 8.4% 7.5% Chicken Stock (32 oz.) $2.32 5.8% (21.1%) (25.5%) Chocolate Bar (3 oz.) $2.64 0.8% (2.4%) (3.1%) Coffee (12 oz.) $10.52 6.9% 10.2% 3.1% Olive Oil (16.9 oz.) $5.55 (1.0%) (16.3%) (15.5%) Sandwich Bread $6.03 6.5% 5.5% (1.0%) Pasta (16 oz.) $1.95 7.6% 11.0% 3.2% Tomatoes (12 oz.) $2.30 0.3% (7.5%) (7.8%) Ground Turkey (16 oz.) $7.76 10.5% (7.5%) (16.3%) Peas (10 oz.) $2.64 (2.3%) (26.5%) (24.8%) Pizza $7.59 4.7% (3.9%) (8.2%) *vs. prior 52 week figures GRAND TOTAL $90.87 4.9% 0.2% (4.5%) What’s in the basket? The Organic Market Basket follows a collection of some of the best-selling organic items in the grocery store. Organic Trade Association’s Organic Market Basket is made possible through a data partnership with SPINS. REFRIGERATED GROCERY FROZEN PRODUCE MARKET BASKET JULY, 2022 Organic Trade Association’s Organic Market Basket provides a periodic look at a basket of 20 organic grocery items. The snapshot reports volume and average retail price changes for the range of items which, taken together, are broadly representative of U.S. organic food sales.
OTA.COM 7 A CLOSER LOOK Pricing Pressures By Angela Jagiello, Director of Education & Insights CONSUMER PRICES are on the rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index, food prices are up just over 10 percent from a year ago. Organic foods are no exception; only three out of 20 items in the Organic Market Basket did not see a price increase this period. Ongoing supply chain shortages (labor, ingredients, and transportation) have conspired to push prices higher. Organic prices, while slower to rise initially, are not exempt from these pressures. Here are a few observations by major category. Produce Organic produce managed to gain dollars, but unit volume was down overall, an unusual development in the category. In the case of bananas, increased prices are a good thing, as produce industry leaders have long held that organic banana prices were unsustainable—far below what growers need to sustain their businesses. Apple prices were also significantly higher, but this is largely a seasonal phenomenon, as domestic supplies dwindled leading into the summer months. Refrigerated While demand for dairy products revived during the pandemic, U.S. organic producers face unique difficulties, including high costs for feed and other inputs. Milk, butter, and eggs all lost dollars and volume, though organic yogurt continued to ascend. Organic orange juice is also a bright spot in the refrigerated case—as families return to a beloved staple of the breakfast table after years of sugar-shunning juices of all kinds. Grocery Center store is the section of most concern as we dip into an economic downturn. We know from years of studying the organic industry—both on the market side and through consumer research—that the further removed a product is from the field, the less likely shoppers are to prioritize purchasing organic. Most shoppers do not know that organic standards reach beyond the field and into the manufacturing facility, keeping artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives (as well as those from GMO ingredients) out of processed foods. When we educate our shoppers about the full spectrum of organic benefits—not just the growing practices, but postharvest, including processing requirements—we create a layer of economic insulation for organic processed foods, making them more resilient to price sensitivities. Frozen All three items tracked in the Basket saw dollar and unit volume decreases. Two of three items took price. Those working in the cold chain have struggled to overcome myriad challenges, including capacity, transportation, and labor constraints. Overall, though, the freezer set has seen a resurgence over the past few years. Frozen organic foods are seen as innovative, convenient, and cost-efficient. The upshot is: despite losses for the period, these organic categories are still trending above their pre-pandemic levels. Angela Jagiello is the Director of Education & Insights for Organic Trade Association. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index, food prices are up just over 10 percent from a year ago.
Fall 2022 ORGANIC REPORT 8 OTA Welcomes Two New Board Members Leadership IN JUNE, OTA announced the appointment of two new members to its Board of Directors, Daniella Velazquez de Leon and Johanna Phillips. The two bring deep expertise and generational experience to the trade association’s board. Here, we get to know them a bit better. Daniella Velazquez de Leon General Manager, Organics Unlimited Daniella is the fourth generation of organic growers in her family and the family’s third generation of organic banana wholesalers. A San Diego native, she started her career in advertising and dedicated seven years to developing digital marketing solutions when Facebook, Pinterest, and Snapchat’s platforms were in their nascent stages. In her free time, she helped with the family business and joined Mayra (her mother, Organics Unlimited’s President/CEO, and recent Organic Pioneer award recipient) at industry trade shows. Upon seeing how passionate industry members were about impacting social change, Daniella dedicated herself fulltime to the family business. She worked her way through the different departments, learning to drive a forklift to load bananas (admittedly not her forte), coordinated warehouse operations and logistics with the farms, and contributed to marketing efforts. What drives Daniella is her mission to positively impact our food system. She is a firm advocate for fair pricing for growers and a decentralized food system that prioritizes local, independent farmers. “As organic has gone mainstream, consolidated, and been absorbed by Big Ag, my intention is to continue to live by the values that drove the original movement,” says Daniella. “I do this for our communities, for our environment, and for our future.” Johanna Phillips Technical Director, Ecocert USA Raised on a family ranch in Southern Idaho, Johanna Phillips is passionate about the mission of Organic Trade Association, organic and sustainable practices, agriculture, and the future of the organic sector. She brings more than a decade of regulatory experience in commercial feed, food, and organic certification, and a lifetime of experience in agriculture. Johanna’s enthusiasm for agriculture started when she was a small child, with participation in 4-H, gardening, and opportunities presented by growing up in a small town surrounded by diverse agriculture and hardworking farmers, ranchers, and dairymen and women. Johanna spent much of her time outdoors with chickens, sheep, cattle, horses, and ducks, or tending her own small garden just outside of her bedroom window. She grew up building fences, helping her father irrigate, working with animals, and learning the challenges faced by families working hard to make a living by growing and raising food. Her childhood instilled not only a love for agriculture, animals, and the planet, but it is also a deeply ingrained perspective that doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but worth the effort. Her keen interest in agriculture is closely tied to her belief that we can do so much more to support the sustainability and wellbeing of the planet, as well as lifestyles that ensure healthy and safe food is available domestically. She is inspired and driven by a calling to support opportunities for families and businesses to operate sustainably and thrive. “You need to be passionate and believe in what you do because that is transmitted to your team. It ’s important to lead by example and walk the talk; a leader doesn’t sit back and tell people what to do, she is down in the trenches working alongside her team.” Johanna is inspired and driven by a calling to support opportunities for families and businesses to operate sustainably and make a living.
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Fall 2022 ORGANIC REPORT 10 OTA Diversity Council Engages Staff and Members in a Commitment to Racial Equity Leadership EACH WEEK, OTA’s Accounting Manager, Janet Martz, processes hundreds of financial and administrative transactions for the organization. However, she never had the opportunity to meaningfully engage with members or OTA’s programming until the establishment of the Diversity Council. In 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the world was forced into a lull, which created a lot of time for introspection. OTA used that time to survey its landscape and determine how we could continue to engage our membership and double-down on our mission. That exercise highlighted two opportunities: OTA had the ability to unify more voices and to expand the diversity of our membership. With an added understanding and purpose, OTA’s staff and board launched a series of commitments, embodied in our Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion ( JEDI) work. The commitments gave new measure to our mission, body to our programming, and a new place for members to engage. We are taking concrete steps to ensure that our successes promote diversity rather than perpetuate social inequalities. We are developing practices and creating opportunities that embed our JEDI commitments into the fabric of OTA and the organic movement. Those efforts begin with the Diversity Council. Like Martz, our members’ Finance, Administrative, Operations, and Human Resources (HR) staff are active and prominent figures in their companies’ day-to-day operations and their own relationships as OTA trade members. Yet, as important as our work is, these key staff often do not get the opportunity to participate in ways that fully take advantage of the benefits of their OTA membership. The Diversity Council offers a place for members in a wide range of positions and from a wide range of backgrounds to connect. The council’s Vice Chair, Carla Balen, started as the Head of People at Organically Grown Company about a year and a half ago. She had many years of experience as an HR professional, but never in the organic trade. She immediately found value in participating in the Diversity Council. It is her first real engagement with the trade association, and she joins many other Organically Grown Company staff who have been deeply involved in our work for many years. “Where we place our resources and what we choose to have conversations about sends a strong message. Personally, not knowing that much about OTA, I would be disappointed if we didn’t have this council,” Balen says, underscoring the importance of creating a formal space to have important conversations about equity and inclusion. The Diversity Council has the distinct mandate to lead work that is not dedicated to any specific business sector or trade issue, but impacts all parts of the trade. Because of that, its membership list includes staff with titles such as Inclusive Diversity Manager, Chief People Officer, Stephanie Jerger “ I intentionally engage now, where I would not have thought to do so before,” Janet Martz says after recounting her experiences while participating in the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge with the Diversity Council.
OTA.COM 11 Coordinator, and Accounting Manager. OTA’s Martz had no previous experience in the work of diversity, equity, or inclusion prior to joining this council. “I intentionally engage now, where I would not have thought to do so before,” she says after recounting her experiences while participating in the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge with the Diversity Council. The challenge was facilitated by Food Solutions New England, with the goal of helping participants commit to deepening their understanding of, and willingness to confront, issues of race and equity. Many council members participated and used the challenge to examine food justice from their own organic sector lens. Since its establishment, the council has guided some noteworthy work, which can be reviewed in the 2021 Annual Report. But our most exciting work is yet to come. 2022 has ushered in some very tangible opportunities for the Diversity Council to learn and grow. The outpouring of support from the OTA membership has allowed us to provide sponsorship for conferences specifically geared toward empowering BlPOC farmers and ranchers. We are preparing to conduct our Annual JEDI Survey, which keeps us informed on how we can best support our members’ JEDI efforts and build more coalitions. We are designing for more professional development opportunities for OTA’s staff, so that they fully represent the importance of this work on behalf of the membership. There will be many impactful things coming from this council, so please consider this your invitation to join us! Stephanie Jerger is the Vice President of Administration for Organic Trade Association. Memories CREATE MOUTHWATERING That moment when a new-to-you food becomes a new favorite food. The second when a craving becomes fully satisfied. These are the kinds of moments that motivate us. At Fuchs North America, our mission is to bring the joy of food to life for consumers around the world. See how Fuchs can partner with your brand to make something special: fuchsna.com Thanks to our JEDI program sponsors! XClif Bar & Company XGeneral Mills/ Small Planet XHandsome Brook Farm, LLC XNew Hope Network XOrganic Valley XPete and Gerry’s Organics, LLC XPipeline Foods XStonyfield Farm, Inc.
Fall 2022 ORGANIC REPORT 12 Moving the Needle on Expanding Organic in California ORGANIC SUPPORTS climate resilience, economic security, and health equity. CCOF’s goal is to expand the benefits of organic to all of California by transitioning 30 percent of California’s agricultural land to organic by 2030. Currently, just under 10 percent of farmland in California is organic. To reach this target, we took a deep dive into the research on the benefits of organic and how organic can be supported at the policy level. We developed nearly 40 recommendations in our Roadmap to an Organic California: Policy Report. And now, we’re enacting these recommendations. • CCOF successfully advanced legislation that allows livestock producers to slaughter a limitless number of goats, sheep, swine, and cattle on the ranch. This opens alternative avenues for ranchers to put meat on their neighbors’ plates, ensures communities have access to food in case of a crisis, and improves ranchers’ financial resilience. Expanding on-ranch slaughter provides livestock producers greater flexibility and market opportunities. • CCOF successfully advocated for $5 million in the California state budget to create an Organic Transition Program. We are now working to pass legislation to set guidelines on the structure of this program, including prioritizing financial and technical assistance for underserved farmers. CCOF hopes to remove barriers to entry for farmers who manage their businesses on thinner margins and cannot assume more risk, as well as for farmers of color who have faced historical and current discrimination that limits access to resources and information. The bill also requires a statewide market analysis of the organic sector to help current and future farmers understand the market landscape and expand marketing options. • CCOF is running legislation to streamline oversight of organic food manufacturers. California’s organic food manufacturing and processing sector is an economic powerhouse, generating $34.5 billion in sales in 2021, a 133 percent increase from 2020. However, as sales continue to climb, there is a need for more efficient and transparent oversight of organic food manufacturers. CCOF is advancing a bill to update the registration process, address consumer complaints more quickly, and track program revenues and costs. This bill will improve organic food manufacturers’ bottom line and support their ability to meet the ever-increasing demand for organic products. • CCOF successfully advocated for organic food in California’s Farm to School Program. This grant program now gives an incentive for schools to buy organic and prioritizes organic producers for grants to cover expenses related to food production, processing, and distribution. Schools often struggle to procure organic foods because of limited resources, strict requirements, and facilities that are not designed for scratch cooking. At the same time, organic farmers can face difficult product requirements and lower prices in the school food market. The Farm to School Program will help provide schools and producers with resources to overcome these obstacles and bring more organic food to lunchrooms across the state. • CCOF is pushing for California’s climate policy to include organic as a climate strategy. Organic combats climate change by prohibiting the use of fossil fuel-derived synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and by requiring soil building practices that sequester carbon. At the same time, organic operations are resilient in the face of more extreme weather events. Recognizing these climate benefits, the California Air Resources Board has adopted the goal of transitioning more acreage to organic as part of its climate strategy. CCOF celebrates this win and is continuing to push for greater recognition of organic as a climate solution at state and federal levels. Our successes would not be possible without organic farmers, ranchers, and processors, as well as partner organizations advocating alongside us. Learn more about the Roadmap to an Organic California project at www.ccof.org/roadmap. This article was prepared by Rebekah Weber, CCOF Policy Director. Update from CCOF, Inc.
Coming soon! Changes to regulations may require organic certification. The USDA National Organic Program is strengthening organic enforcement. Organic certification may soon be required for operations that buy and sell organic products, including brokers, traders, distributors, importers, and private label owners. Find out what this means for you at firstname.lastname@example.org. Discounts available for eligible operations.
Fall 2022 ORGANIC REPORT 14 In May 2021, OTA established a Diversity & Entrepreneurship Program and Fund as part of its Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion ( JEDI) commitment. The Diversity & Entrepreneurship Program and Fund provides (among other benefits) a two-year Trade Membership with voting rights to Organic Trade Association for businesses that are 51 percent owned and controlled by under-represented groups including Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Native American/ Indigenous American/Alaska Native, Pacific Islander, and women. To date, this targeted membership program has brought more than 20 new members to the trade association. Here, we introduce you to two of the members: Waju Water and Green Heffa Farms. By Reana Kovalcik Every year, juice processors in the United States discard an estimated 700 million gallons of water from fresh fruit. Waju Water Founder and CEO Chris Oates thinks there’s a better use for that fruit water than just sending it down the drain— particularly given the severity of our climate crisis and the limited supply of fresh groundwater. That’s why in 2020, Chris put his head together with some of the most innovative fruit suppliers and scientists and founded Waju Water—the only beverage brand made by harnessing the pure water naturally found in real fruit. With Waju, customers are getting a delicious beverage that’s made nearly 100 percent from a resource that would otherwise be wasted—organic water from fruit. Every 12 ounces of Waju consumed equates to 12 ounces of water saved instead of wasted— i.e., 12 ounces of water that didn’t have to be pulled from an underground aquifer! Not only does Waju bring the refreshing bright taste of fruit, but according to the company it also provides ultra-hydration thanks to a boost of antioxidants and vitamin C that come directly from the fruit. Waju debuted online in 2021 and can also be found in select natural grocery stores. The fruit water has been incredibly popular so far, hitting a sweet spot with consumers who are looking for products that satisfy on flavor and go above and beyond on climate and societal impact. “I admire a lot of brands out there that are focused on social good in select ways,” says Chris, “like charitable good programs or through donations. But for me, it’s important that even our JEDI Program Supports Organic Innovators Getting Certified Waju Water Meet the Member Chris Oates, Waju Water Clarenda Stanley (aka Farmer Cee), Green Heffa Farms
OTA.COM 15 product itself has a direct societal impact which, in our case, empowers consumers to participate in the upcycled movement with each can they drink.” Waju’s serious mission is counterbalanced by its fun and whimsical packaging, which recently won the company two Dieline design awards, including Functional Beverage Design of the Year. Waju draws in customers by depicting its organic fruit as vessels of discovery and positions consumers as explorers on a journey to discover better, more-sustainable beverages. Organic ingredients are highlighted by intriguing tag lines like “water that sparkles the imagination” and “upcycled fruit water,” which let consumers know that something truly exceptional awaits them inside the slim, forever recyclable can. “Organic resonates with me because I’m thinking beyond just my own life,” says Chris. “Are these natural resources going to be available for our children? Our grandchildren? I want to do anything I can right now that will benefit the long-term health of our food system for generations to come—as a person and a founder. For me, that’s organic.” Chris and Waju joined Organic Trade Association in early 2022 as part of OTA’s Diversity and Entrepreneurship Fund (DEF), which helps to elevate businesses led by persons of color. DEF and OTA Diversity Council leaders are members who are exceptionally passionate about creating a better food and farm system and understand the importance of advancing equity and access within organic. “As a Black-owned company in an industry where founders of color make up only a tiny fraction of companies, I have this human mission to champion underrepresented communities and expose people to more founders of color who are creating really cool, innovative products that are shaping our future,” says Chris. By joining OTA’s 9,500 members across the country, Chris and Waju can lead by example and show shoppers, business leaders, and food entrepreneurs that there is a place for them in the organic community. The climate crisis is already here. That’s why it’s imperative that organic grow not only as an industry, but also as a community. With two-thirds of the global population expected to face water scarcity by 2025, there is no better time than now to follow Waju’s lead. “ As a Black-owned company where founders of color make up only a tiny fraction of companies, I have this human mission to champion underrepresented communities and expose people to more founders of color who are creating really cool, innovative products that are shaping our future,” says Chris.
Fall 2022 ORGANIC REPORT 16 Meet the Member “Farmer Cee” (aka Clarenda Stanley), an enigmatic personality with a penchant for word play, never planned to be a farmer. A natural and poignant communicator, Cee had historically channeled her energy into marketing, fundraising, and other creative works. But in watching the graceful way she works across her 14+ acres of medicinal plants and herbs and witnessing the care with which Farmer Cee treats every living thing (even a precariously perched family of wasps), it seems almost destiny that Cee would become a farmer. Today, Farmer Cee is the CEO/President of Green Heffa Farms, a Certified B Corporation and organic farm located in northern Chatham County, North Carolina. Farmer Cee and Green Heffa Farms are committed to the best practices in organic and heritage farming, as well as Cee’s 4Es: Economic empowerment, Equity, Environment, and Education. “We’re seed to sip,” says Farmer Cee, “which means we take care of our plants from the beginning of their life until they end up in your cup. Our blends are unique, but not complicated. Not only are you getting the botanical benefits when you use our products, but you’re also supporting our values as a business. Our customers support us being good stewards through our organic practices, through our energy usage, the materials and packaging we choose, the whole package.” Growing up in Alabama’s agrarian Black Belt, Cee was surrounded by organic growing practices—although she didn’t know it at the time. Cee’s grandmother gardened while her grandfather farmed, and both employed heritage growing techniques and traditional knowledge in how they engaged with the land, plants, and the thriving ecosystem around them. “We didn’t call it organic,” says Farmer Cee, “so it took me a while to realize that some of the terminology used today is really just encapsulating practices that were already in place like on my grandparents’ farm. Once I learned about those tenets, I realized—oh yeah, that’s how we farm! Once I began to research more about organic farming, it felt like a remembrance.” Cee leaned into that history when, in 2019, she suddenly became the sole operator of Green Heffa Farms. Thrust from the business development and operations to the growing side of the farm, Cee drew on her experiences as a child and on knowledge she had built up while working in the environmental and conservation spaces. By diving in whole-heartedly and staying open to the learning process, Cee was able to transform Green Heffa Farms into a thriving organic farm that grows not only high-quality herbs and botanicals, but also equity and economic empowerment. Green Heffa Farms
OTA.COM 17 “As a Black woman, there’s a very tenuous relationship with safety and respect in this culture,” says Farmer Cee. “Farming puts you in touch with your humanity because you’re literally touching life, nurturing and incubating growth. I can show love through farming in a way that allows me to do it without constantly looking over my shoulder.” Farmer Cee is big on symbiosis. It’s why she farms the way she does, why she produces mind/body healing teas and steams, and why she believes connection is a critical part of widening the circle and growing the organic community. Connection is why Farmer Cee became an OTA member in early 2022 and also why Green Heffa Farms is a Certified B-Corporation. Farmer Cee wants to be an example to other Black farmers and those who procure agricultural goods who do not already intentionally include Black farmers in the organic supply chain. “That was one of the things that really appealed to me about joining OTA, being part of making those circles more inclusive,” says Farmer Cee. “I wanted to make sure the voices of farmers like me were represented. And I want to connect with my fellow organic folks—I know all of them have tea in the breakroom, so let’s talk about making that Green Heffa tea!” Farmer Cee’s teas and steams can be ordered directly on the Green Heffa Farms website (where you can also sign up for Farmer Cee’s newsletter) as well as through Thrive Market and in all Weaver Street Markets. “ That was one of the things that really appealed to me about joining OTA, being part of making those circles more inclusive,” says Farmer Cee. “I wanted to make sure the voices of farmers like me were represented. And I want to connect with my fellow organic folks—I know all of them have tea in the breakroom, so let’s talk about making that Green Heffa tea!”
Fall 2022 ORGANIC REPORT 18 Mid-Term Elections Loom Large Over Next Farm Bill Legislative Affairs Megan DeBates ALTHOUGH AGRICULTURE issues will likely not be top of mind for voters in the upcoming midterm elections this November, the outcomes of this election cycle will certainly influence farm policy in a big way. Congress has recently begun rewriting and reauthorizing the current farm bill, which expires in 2023. The timing of this process is colliding with the upcoming midterms, whose outcome will shape what is in the farm bill and who gets to decide. The elections will determine which party controls the House and the Senate, and will also have an impact on who will serve on the House and Senate Agriculture Committees that will write the farm bill in the next Congress. This November all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 seats in the U.S. Senate are up for election. Redistricting May Shift House Seats This midterm election cycle will be different from recent ones due to the Congressional redistricting process that happens once every 10 years as part of the U.S. census. By law, the House is capped at 435 seats, which are divvied up based on the population of each state. New maps are drawn outlining the boundaries of each Congressional district as part of the census. Due to results of the 2020 census, six states gained new Congressional seats and seven states lost seats. Redrawn Congressional maps can be a mixed bag. In some cases, they can dramatically change the political makeup of the district, making it more competitive or less competitive for a particular party. In other cases, incumbents from different districts can be drawn into a newly created district, forcing them to compete against each other. Republicans need to win just four additional seats to take back control of the House and they’ve already gained three seats through the redistricting process. This factor, coupled with the low approval ratings of President Biden, will almost surely result in the House flipping to Republican control. What does this mean for the farm bill and for the House Agriculture Committee? If the Republicans take back the House, Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA-15) will become Chairman of the Committee, putting him in the driver’s seat to write the farm bill. Additionally, we can expect to see many changes to the makeup of the committee. Of the competitive house races, nearly 15 are members of the House Agriculture Committee, with only two of those being Republicans. The highly competitive races include Axne, Davids, Kaptur, Schrier, Craig, Spanberger and O’Halleran, all Democrats. A few other notable changes: Vicki Hartzler (R-MO-04), a longtime member of the House Agriculture Committee, is departing the House to run for an open Senate seat. Rodney Davis (R-IL-13) was drawn into the same district as a fellow House Agriculture Committee Republican Mary Miller and lost the primary. Davis was a top champion for organic agriculture over the years and is co-author of the Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic Standards Act. His loss will be felt heavily by the organic sector. Al Lawson’s (D-FL-05) district was eliminated and he is now running against former House Agriculture Committee member Neal Dunn in a newly drawn district. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20), who currently represents Salinas Valley, a district that is heavily agriculture-based, lost most of the agricultural land in the redistricting process. He will be running in a new district that is more coastal. Outside of the House Agriculture Committee there are some other notable mentions. Kurt Schrader (D-OR-05), a former member of the Agriculture Committee and one of the only organic farmers in Congress, faced a tough Democratic primary against a candidate who ran to the left and lost. Two Republicans on the House Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee who are supporters of organic have competitive races. David Valadao’s (R-CA-22) seat is currently rated as a tossup for the general election, although he survived his primary. Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04) is facing multiple primary opponents. (At the time this article was drafted, Newhouse’s primary scheduled for August had not yet occurred.) Senate Control is in Play The upcoming elections will determine who controls the Senate, which is currently split 50-50. Democrats hold 48 seats with two independents who caucus with them and Vice President Harris serving as a tie-breaking vote. Republicans control 50 seats. Of the 35 seats up for reelection, 14 are currently held by Democrats and 21 are held by Republicans. However, of the highly competitive seats in play, six of them are held by Democrats and four are held by Republicans, making the Senate elections much more unpredictable. Six Senators who serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee, including
OTA.COM 19 the Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR), are up for reelection, and there is an open seat in Vermont with Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) retirement. Of the Senate Agriculture Committee members, only Ralph Warnock (D-GA) has a truly competitive race. Michael Bennet (D-CO) is facing a Republican challenger who could make his race somewhat more competitive. Outside of the Agriculture Committee, incumbents from states with high organic production are running for reelection in California, Indiana, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin. Of those the most competitive races are Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Ron Johnson (R-WI). There are also open seats in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, with Pennsylvania being the most closely watched. Although the makeup of the Senate Agriculture Committee is much less likely to change than in the House, which party ends up controlling the Senate will have a big impact on farm bill negotiations. If it is Democrats, Debbie Stabenow will remain Chair of the committee, but she might be dealing with a Republican-controlled House, making split party control a central factor in negotiations. However, she is no stranger to this dynamic. When the 2014 farm bill was signed into law, Democrats controlled the Senate (Stabenow was Chair), while Republicans controlled the House. If Republicans take back control of the Senate, John Boozman will be poised to become Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee for the first time, putting his mark on the farm bill. House and Senate control by the opposing party could set up a collision course with the Democratic administration, though farm bills have traditionally been bipartisan affairs. One trend to watch that could have a chilling effect on the farm bill is the increased political polarization occurring in both parties. There are more candidates for Congress running to the far left and to the far right than in previous elections. The Agriculture Committee used to include a lot more moderate Democrats and Republicans who were inclined to negotiate, compromise, and actually legislate. Regardless of what happens this November, the only surefire way to protect and advance organic in the next farm bill is to cultivate support for the sector on both sides of the aisle. Megan DeBates is Vice President of Government Affairs for Organic Trade Association. HEALTHY INGREDIENTS Our portfolio includes non-GMO, organic and gluten-free pulses, grains, seeds, flax, Suntava Purple Corn™ and expeller oils. IntegriPure®, our micro reduction process, supports our supply chain, along with our specialty milling and blending capabilities. ASSURANCE Whether it’s regenerative agriculture or connecting to the farm, we are partnering with our customers to tell their story. We are dedicated to delivering safe, premium ingredients in partnership with our grower network. Goodness. It’s what we bring to the table. HFIfamily.com • 844-275-3443 At HFI, we’re meeting demand for sustainable, on-trend ingredients from transparency to innovation. © 2022 Healthy Food Ingredients. Product of USA. HFI Half-page Organic Report General 121721.indd 1 12/17/2021 1:56:54 PM Although the makeup of the Senate Agriculture Committee is much less likely to change than in the House, which party ends up controlling the Senate will have a big impact on farm bill negotiations.
Fall 2022 ORGANIC REPORT 20 Data & Insights Advancing Organic in Climate-Smart Agriculture Programs By Laura Holm, International and Government Affairs Associate ON FEBRUARY 7, 2022, U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the availability of $1 billion in grants for Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities through the Commodity Credit Corporation. The purpose of the new program is to support the production and marketing of “climate-smart commodities,” produced using USDA-defined climate-smart practices, through 30 to 50 pilot projects over the next five years. Organic Trade Association applied for the first pool of funding, designated for projects ranging from $5 million to $100 million. USDA had requested public feedback on how to structure the pilot program through a Request for Information in September 2021. In response, OTA urged USDA to (1) recognize organic agriculture as a key part of the solution to tackle climate change; (2) integrate organic into climate-smart agriculture programs; (3) increase technical assistance and knowledge of organic farming systems; (4) promote organic through market and infrastructure development; (5) employ life-cycle analysis in Climate-Smart programs; and (6) recognize and reward organic farmers as early adopters of climate-smart practices. After reviewing public comments, USDA published a Notice of Funding Opportunity calling for partnerships across the supply chain to propose pilot projects. The projects must provide voluntary incentives to farmers and landowners to (1) implement climate‐smart production practices, activities, and systems on working lands; (2) measure, monitor, and verify the carbon and greenhouse gas; (GHG) benefits associated with those practices; and (3) develop markets and promote the resulting climate‐ smart commodities. Upon publication of the notice, OTA recognized that the opportunity could support the collection of primary data on the soil impact of organic systems, which could plug into existing USDA verification tools such as the COMET-Farm modeling tool and enable it to begin accurately measuring GHG outcomes of organic farms. Key Goals Reward organic and transitioning producers for being early adopters of the climate-smart practices. Communicate and educate the public on the climatesmart benefits of organic production and organic food, fiber, and other products. Strengthen organic data collection particularly around soil health and climate-smart practices, and create an easy-touse soil health measuring tool for organic and transitioning farms. Laura Holm “ OTA, in collaboration with The Organic Center, worked on a proposal to build a pilot program entitled Advancing Climate Outcomes and Expanding Markets Through Soil Testing and Verification in Organic Systems. Leading up to the submission of the project, OTA collected input on the pilot from OTA members, including those who serve on OTA’s Climate Change Task Force.
OTA.COM 21 Marketing Facilitating marketers by connecting enrolled farmers to buyers and partners across the supply chain. Spreading the word to consumers by letting them know how organic embodies the climate-smart ethos. Implementing Climate-Smart Practices Organic and transitioning to organic producers apply to join the project. Enrolled Producers will receive free soil testing and technical assistance for enhancing climate-smart practices currently in place and/or adding new practices. Soil Analysis Verification Soil samples are collected and lab tested to verify short- and longterm carbon storage responses to climate-smart practices and assess other soil health indictors. OTA submitted a proposal that would incentivize organic and transitioning farmers to implement or improve climatesmart practices through free soil testing and tailored technical assistance in response to soil data. Rewarding and Incentivizing Organic Farming Systems and Continuous Improvement OTA, in collaboration with The Organic Center, worked on a proposal to build a pilot program entitled Advancing Climate Outcomes and Expanding Markets Through Soil Testing and Verification in Organic Systems. Leading up to the submission of the project, OTA collected input on the pilot from OTA members, including those who serve on OTA’s Climate Change Task Force. If selected for funding, the pilot will provide free soil testing and analysis for up to 1,600 organic and transitioning farmers to verify the outcomes of their climate-smart practices. Over the five-year pilot program, organic farms will be sampled twice, and transitioning organic land will be sampled three times. The Organic Center used its expertise to build out the soil-testing element of the pilot program, which will analyze physical, chemical, and biological soil characteristics related to nutrient cycling, soil fertility, and GHG emissions—including carbon sequestration and other indicators of nitrogen use efficiency (i.e., reduction of NO2 emissions). Soil tests results will offer realtime accurate reporting and tracking of GHG benefits (versus
Fall 2022 ORGANIC REPORT 22 predictions from models), document increased efficiency of carbon sequestration in participating farms, and capture improved nitrogen cycling and other climate-resilience outcomes. Specifically, the soil tests will measure both short- and long-term metrics of climate-resiliency including: • Total carbon/organic carbon • Aggregate stability • Available water capacity • Bulk density • Reactive carbon • Particulate organic matter • Soil organic matter (SOM) • Soil Respiration • Soil Enzymes • Soil pH and buffer pH • Sum of cations (CEC) • Base saturation percent • Soluble salts • Nitrate-nitrogen • Phosphorus • Potassium • Calcium • Magnesium • Sodium • Sulfur • Zinc • Iron • Manganese • Copper Farmers will receive free tailored and culturally appropriate technical assistance to add and enhance practices that improve soil health, sequester carbon, and enable continuous improvement in their organic farming system. As part of the pilot, OTA reached out to partners to build a nationwide network of technical assistance providers and consulted with certifiers to imagine integrating their work into the program. The pilot will support the integration of voluntary climate-smart practices and outcomes into the existing USDA National Organic Program certification procedures and documentation. This will reduce costs and eliminate duplicative requirements in current and future programs centered around climate-smart agriculture. Finally, verified climate outcomes will inform a marketing and consumer education campaign on the climate benefits of USDAcertified organic products. The OTA pilot proposal will include a marketing campaign to benefit all organic and transitioning farmers and a process to recognize those who are enrolled in the pilot and therefore going above and beyond to improve practices and outcomes. Building a Coalition During the application period, OTA recruited a network of more than 20 partners, almost all of which are OTA members, to plug in at various points of the supply chain from direct farmer outreach to retail promotion to consumer education. The partners agreed to promote engagement in the pilot program to more than 12,000 farms and operations across six million+ acres producing a wide range of organic goods including vegetables, fruits, berries, nuts, dairy, eggs, corn, soy, cotton, hemp, and more. Each partner’s role in the project was mutually determined based on their knowledge and experience of the subject area, geographic reach within their target region, and capacity to deliver on ambitious goals. Partners included technical assistance providers, organic certifiers, marketing cooperatives, farmer organizations, and other companies. Next Steps According to USDA, more than 1,000 applications were submitted for the climate-smart commodities partnerships with funding requests totaling more than $18 billion, demonstrating the strong interest and need from the agriculture sector to find solutions to the climate crisis. Awards are expected to be announced in Fall 2022. OTA thanks members and other friends of organic who participated in the grant proposal process for their generous contributions of time, expertise, and feedback. The work to put together the application and pilot proposal strengthened the connections that OTA and TOC share with stakeholders and the larger organic community. The overarching goals and components of the pilot can be used for additional grant or funding opportunities, and created a framework for future collaborations to collect organic data and support organic farmers. Data & Insightsota.com