I just returned from The Organic Produce Summit in Monterey, Calif., where 2100 of my favorite friends gathered to celebrate. Finally connected in person—after a year like no other—growers, buyers, friends, sometimes rivals—we celebrated the part we played in 2020.
As the world changed, organic food sales went wild. OTA reports that organic food sales soared to $62 billion, growing twice as fast as the year before. Yet organic food huddles still at around 4% of all food sales.
There’s clearly work to be done beyond growing, selling, and buying organic food—it’s policy and political work.
The food we eat is intertwined in consequences that we don’t usually think about. The diversion of water, extraction of nutrients from the soil, the discharge of pollutants to air and water, the labor to grow, manage, pick, and package, the release of carbon dioxide to transport and deliver it.
Industrial ag focuses on crop yields and chemical inputs but externalizes the environmental and social impacts. Corn subsidies from years of Farm Bill policies result in low-priced high-fructose food and drink, cheap enough to fuel the obesity crisis.
Our food systems can no longer be thought of as a single sector. Food has social, economic, and environmental impacts, and we need new policies that integrate all of them.
If you believe organic food and agriculture play a crucial role, it may just be time to get political and be part of policy change.
One way to get involved is by supporting a Political Action Campaign (PAC), which can make a bigger impact on the issues you care about, such as organic food systems.
What is a PAC?
Simply, a PAC is an organization whose purpose is to raise and distribute campaign funds to candidates seeking political office.
Formed by corporations, labor unions, trade associations, or even individuals, they channel their voluntary contributions to candidates running for office in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
They’re allowed to contribute up to $50,000 to candidates and interact with them through fundraising events. These gatherings raise money and provide a venue for conversation, education, and fostering community.
Did you know there is an Organic PAC?
In 2011 The Organic Trade Association (OTA) Board established an affiliated PAC as part of their commitment to increasing organic policy through their government relations program.
OTA’s government relations work provides a way to engage with policymakers and advance the organic industry’s interests. It supports candidates who share common beliefs about organic food and farming.
In essence, the Organic PAC allows OTA members to support—with financial and other resources—the election of officials aligned with organic food and farming goals.
The OTA Organic PAC helps OTA to:
- Recognize and honor the efforts of organic champions in Congress.
- Support incumbents and new candidates who can be influential in protecting and promoting organic policies.
- Cultivate and maintain meaningful relationships between candidates and the organic community.
- Fostering new relationships on both sides of the aisle because bipartisan support is a way to educate and develop new industry champions.
Want to learn more about the Organic PAC?
The Organic PAC is a transparent, legal, and federally monitored way for trade associations like OTA to engage in the organic political process.
OTA’s Organic PAC is the organic voice in Washington. They show up for the organic industry and ensure that our elected leaders prioritize organic food, fiber, and farming. To be an integral part of our nation’s agriculture policy.
It’s funded by pooling voluntary contributions from employees of OTA member companies. Leveraging every donation—no matter how small—into one fund for a very strong impact.
The Organic PAC is completely non-partisan. Instead of choosing by party, it looks at where elected leaders stand on various organic issues such as Farm Bill priorities and how they vote on regulatory mandates. If they share organic as a priority perspective, they get support.
Curious about how to get involved?
First, you must be a member of The Organic Trade Association; even individuals can join. If you are not already a member, why aren’t you? You can find out more here.
Once you’re a member, reach out to Douglas Korb to learn more about the many ways you can help protect organic in through our Congress. It may be through inviting your elected officials to visit facilities in your district, meeting with them in D.C., serving on the Organic PAC Board, and, of course, donating to the Organic PAC.
It’s a critical time to make our voices heard and advance organic priorities. Policies that facilitate farmers’ transition to organic agriculture and raise awareness of the need for sustainable production and consumption.
This fall, things will move quickly as both parties look ahead to the mid-term elections, just around the corner in 2022. A farm bill will be considered, while three out of the four leading principals of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are new to their job. This will require ongoing relationship building and education.
The Organic PAC is one of the best tools to ensure success at having our organic voice at the table in D.C. Find out more here. I hope you will join me in this important political process.