OTA Releases Blueprint for Advancing Organic in Climate Change Policy

Washington, D.C.—The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has unveiled a major report on organic and its ability to mitigate climate change, according to a press release.

“Our climate crisis is real, is immediate, and affects us all. It is clear that urgent action is needed to help us mitigate and adapt to this crisis,” said Avi Garbow, OTA Board member and Environmental Advocate for Patagonia Works, in the press release. “While the nation’s conventional agricultural sector’s emissions and practices contribute to our worsening climate, there is a time-tested climate solution that regenerates our soils, nourishes our communities, and safeguards our environment from harmful synthetic chemicals: organic agriculture.”

The report identifies policy opportunities to elevate the role of organic in the climate change discussion, support organic farmers, and encourage the transition to organic farming, according to the press release. The white paper, Advancing Organic to Mitigate Climate Change, incorporates the key principles identified by OTA’s Board of Directors to achieve meaningful climate policy solutions.

Those principles call for climate policies that:

  1. Advance organic agriculture.
  2. Are science-based, data-driven, and verifiable.
  3. Focus on outcomes and continuous improvement.
  4. Promote soil health and carbon sequestration.
  5. Lower the use of fossil fuel-based chemicals.
  6. Provide solutions for mitigation and adaptation.
  7. Incentivize farmers and businesses.
  8. Decarbonize the economy.
  9. Foster agricultural diversity and innovation.
  10. Address equity and inclusion.
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“As a company that has made organic food for over 30 years, Amy’s has witnessed firsthand the inherent benefits of organic agriculture on the health of the planet. The Organic Trade Association’s Climate Change White Paper, through scientific research, provides a practical set of policy recommendations to make organic agriculture a bigger and more meaningful part of the climate change solution. We look forward to seeing the positive impact of this important work,” said Paul Schiefer, Senior Director of Sustainability at Amy’s Kitchen and member of the association’s Board of Directors, in the press release.

Specific policy recommendations include:

  1. Elevating organic as a key voice in climate-smart agricultural policy;
  2. Establishing a national program to support transitioning organic farmers by reducing financial risks, improving market infrastructure development, and increasing access to land;
  3. Developing a competitive grant program to provide technical services to organic and transitioning farmers to allow better access to information regarding organic production methods;
  4. Creating a federal Healthy Soils pilot program, based on existing programs at USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the California Healthy Soils Initiative.

“Extreme weather variability, caused by climate change, is the greatest challenge facing farmers,” said Doug Crabtree, Montana organic farmer and member of the OTA Board of Directors, in the press release. “The (over)use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers is agriculture’s most egregious contribution to climate change. Organic farmers demonstrate that farming systems can be productive, profitable and a significant part of the solution to climate change by avoiding synthetic nitrogen, building soil organic matter and sequestering carbon in the soil. I am proud that our trade association is taking the lead on illustrating the key role of organic food and farming in managing climate change.”

“U.S. communities, economies and ecosystems are under threat from climate change,” added Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of OTA. “Federal policies can help advance organic as a key solution by encouraging the adoption of organic practices and maximizing benefits for mitigating climate change. The Organic Trade Association and our members stand ready to engage and support federal lawmakers in advancing these recommendations.”

More information and the white paper can be found here.