The Organic Trade Association is asking stakeholders to send in their “biggest and brightest ideas” on how to go about establishing a voluntary “checkoff-like” program for the organic sector. This week the OTA announced the opening of a six-month period (ending April 30) for interested parties to answer key questions on the initiative known as GRO Organic, short for Generate Results and Opportunity for Organic. “This is an important opportunity to weigh in and help shape the voluntary program at the start of the process,” the OTA says. Contributors are being asked for suggestions on addressing the sector’s most pressing needs: “bringing new farmers into organic production and making sure existing farmers can stay in organic, increasing organic research, and educating the public about the benefits of organic." The OTA decided in September to go ahead with a voluntary program after USDA terminated rulemaking that would have set up a mandatory organic checkoff. The agency cited “uncertain industry support” for the proposed program.”

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