LINCOLN, NE: One of the few member-owned organic certifiers held its annual meeting in Texas for the first time, from Feb. 5 to Feb. 7, 2014.
The Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA), an international organic certifier, convened its Annual General Membership Meeting with 63 delegates, representing more than 1,000 operations across the Americas at San Antonio, Texas. Kevin Koester, OCIA president and meeting chair, asked delegates to introduce themselves and talk about their reason for being certified organic. Most were producers who said the top two reasons they certified were economic and to produce healthy food. When asked why they certified with OCIA, the top two responses were networking and support from chapters.
Several delegates said OCIA’s future was at its roots, as a network of family farmers. New emphasis will be placed in 2014 maintaining and developing OCIA’s member chapters. The United Nations declared 2014 the international year of family farming. Check back at the OCIA website for monthly member spotlights on OCIA’s family of farmers, processors, apiaries and more. February’s spotlight was Bernard and Sharon Kavan, from near Linwood, Neb. The Kavans were also recipients of OCIA Research and Education’s Outstanding Organic Farmer of 2014 award.
Members elect a board of directors at the meeting. They re-elected Steve Elliott from Ohio, Jack Geiger from Eastern Kansas, Demetria Stephens from Western Kansas and elected a new member to the board; Susan Linkletter, from New Brunswick. See the full list of Board of Directors. Koester kept his seat as president in the election of officers for the 2014 board.
Mark Kastel, co-founder and senior farm policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute, got a standing ovation after his talk on maintaining organics’ integrity at the meeting Thursday afternoon. He said the gesture reminded him of the spirit of a farmers union convention where its members said they were concerned about neighbors going out of business, roads crumbling and not being able to take care of elderly people in the area.
“And so it was about us,” he said. “I’ve always thought that OCIA, and that’s why I’m proud to be here, was about the organic movement.”
Kastel said his operation was certified by OCIA in 1989 or 1990, shortly after OCIA was incorporated, in 1988.
OCIA’s next AGMM will be at Council Bluffs, Iowa in February 2015.
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OCIA is a not-for-profit organic certification agency that has offered a wide variety of accreditations to our members throughout the world for over 25 years. During an annual meeting, approximately 100 organic farmers from the United States, Canada and Latin America come together to meet and vote on the Bylaws, Standards and Board of Directors for this member-run organization.
Date Published: March 10th, 2014
Author/Title: Demetria Stephens, OCIA International Board Member
Address: OCIA, 1340 N. Cotner Blvd, Lincoln, NE, 68505