( Organic Trade Association )

The Organic Trade Association is seeking ideas on how to design and implement a voluntary industry-invested “check-off like” program for the organic sector.

The Washington, D.C.-based group announced the opening of a six-month period for interested parties to answer key questions on the private sector initiative known as “GRO Organic,” according to a news release. “GRO Organic” is shorthand for Generate Results and Opportunity for Organic.
With a comment period ending April 30, interested parties can send their ideas to GROideas@ota.com, according to a news release.

“We want GRO Organic to be a bold and engaged opt-in program that pools resources from everyone who can contribute so that we can collectively address critical needs across the organic sector,” Laura Batcha, executive director and CEO of the Organic Trade Association, said in the release. “The need for more investment in organic is widely agreed upon—how we solve for it is what we must now work together to determine.”

After the Organic Trade Association submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider implementing a federally mandated check-off program for organics, the agency terminated the rulemaking process in January 2018.

In response, the OTA said in September it was moving ahead with plans for a voluntary private-sector funded program to promote the organic brand, raise funds for organic research and consumer education, and foster more organic agriculture in the U.S.

At the time, the trade association formed a steering committee to lead the efforts.

“Given today’s changing markets and government policies, it is imperative that the organic industry work together to support research, education and awareness of certified organic food,” Grant Lundberg, CEO of Lundberg Family Farms and member of the GRO Steering Committee, said in the release. “The GRO process gives us the opportunity to provide the additional support our industry needs to help grow our organic certified supply and demand.”