After years of effort, including a couple unsuccessful starts, a representative voice for the organic farmers in America is finally becoming a reality. This effort began as a shared idea between a few organizational representatives from various regions throughout the country, myself included. Nearly five years ago, we formed a committee working slowly toward a national organization specifically for organic farmers. Last fall, the Rodale Institute launched a similar idea and after a great deal of deliberation, we have combined forces with the official organization of the Organic Farmers Association (OFA).
Prior to the merger, the organizational committee represented six regions within the United States which contained nearly equal numbers of certified organic farmers, according to USDA records. The committee then appointed two organic farmers and one supporting organization representative from each region and began establishing procedure and organizational recommendations for the steering committee’s consideration.
The steering committee met for the first time in La Crosse, Wisconsin just before the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) conference in late February of this year. At the time, we still had four steering committee positions to fill but most of the appointees were present along with Rodale Institute representative, Jeff Moyer. The primary focus of the meeting was to make formal recommendations regarding organizational structure, policy development procedures, a mission statement and overall vision as well as developing a budget and fundraising strategies. Our goal is to officially present, discuss and adopt the results of this meeting with elected representatives at our first annual conference which we hope to hold this coming winter. And although we made significant progress, the steering committee’s task is far from over.
Perhaps the most noteworthy and important decision of our newly-founded Organic Farmers Association thus far, is that only certified organic farmer members will be allowed to vote. This ensures that the organization will be give organic farmers a voice, both as a part of the OFA and on behalf of organic farmers throughout their region and America.
In the end, we hope to establish an organization that represents organic farmers throughout America, rather than favoring one region, special interest or organization over another. We are well on our way to creating an organization which is truly representative of the American organic farmer.