There are a number of lobby groups for organic farming dedicated to advancing the practice of chemical-free, sustainable farming. These organizations speak out on behalf of the organic food industry and providing resources to assist professionals who have chosen to pursue careers in the organic food trade.
U.S. and Canada: Organic Trade Association
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) serves the overall organic business community throughout North America. This industry association focuses its efforts on promoting and providing protection for all types of organic business operations, including farms and businesses that produce natural goods such as organic food products, textiles, personal care items and more.
OTA was formed in 1985 and has been an important factor in establishing the regulatory environment and market conditions in which organic manufacturers are marketers operate. As a membership-based organization, the OTA focuses on issues of relevance to its members and provides many benefits to individuals and organizations who choose to join.
Membership benefits include:
- Advocacy (active lobbying on behalf of members, legislative activities and updates, and tools for member advocacy)
- Directory publications (organic farm supplies, exports, ingredients, etc.)
- Discounts on various benefits (insurance, retirement planning, car rental savings, etc.)
- Free training materials (web-based, audio, association publications, etc.)
- Networking opportunities (member forums, task forces, opportunities to get involved)
- Online member listings (including links to company websites)
- Promotional opportunities (publicity for new products and company news)
- Special Events (annual "All Things Organic" conference and trade show, annual fund, Harvest Month events, etc.)
United States: The Cornucopia Institute
The Cornucopia Institute's (CI) mission is to advocate and protect the economic well-being of small-scale family farm operations, both organic and non-organic. Based in Cornucopia, Wisconsin, the CI is described specifically as a "progressive food policy research group," and takes a special interest in the organic food industry. One of the institute's major initiatives is The Organic Integrity Project, which functions as a corporate watchdog for the industry. The intent is to verify that organic farming methods and products are produced with integrity, without any compromises made for increased profitability. The organization opposes any efforts to weaken standards for organic products, instead remaining strongly focused on taking steps to maintain consumer confidence in the organic label.
United States: Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Founded in 1971, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) is the largest and oldest of the state-specific lobby groups for organic farming in the United States. MOFGA's mission is to provide resources, information, and assistance designed to enhance the ability of farmers to grow organic food. The group's primary concerns include:
- Environmental protection
- Support for local food production and rural farming communities
- Consumer education
- Public policy supporting the principles of organic food production
International: International Federation of the Organic Agriculture Movement
Commonly referred to as IFOAM, the International Federation of the Organic Agriculture Movement is an independent, international, non-profit association with more than 750 member organizations around the world. The organization is dedicated to promoting and strengthening the principles of organic agriculture worldwide. IFOAM provides both formal standards and third-party certification for the integrity of organic products and processes. The online membership directory features a full list of IFOAM member organizations.
Canada: Saskatchewan Organic Directorate
The Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (SOD) is an organization of organic food and fiber producers, buyers, sellers, consumers, and Canadian government regulators across the region of Saskatchewan. SOD speaks out on behalf of the organic food and fiber industry on matters of policy and the regulatory environment. The organization conducts research regarding sustainable agriculture practices and provides education to individuals in the industry and the general public.
United Kingdom: The Soil Association
The Soil Association is the leading organization in the United Kingdom focused on the promotion of sustainable organic farming practices. The organization sets and maintains stringent standards for production and marketing of organic goods. UK consumers can be confident that food and textile products marked with the association's Organic Standard label have been produced in compliance with strict standards of environmental responsibility and animal welfare.
Lobby Groups for Organic Farming Worldwide
There are many other organic lobby groups, each focused on enhancing the development and implementation of chemical-free, sustainable farming practices. To do your part in getting the word out about the benefits of organic products, get involved in one of the lobby groups for organic farming that is active in your community.
Each individual person, whether food industry professionals or consumers concerned with a safe food supply and responsible farming practices, can make a difference.