Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan was awarded the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) Public Servant Award for her outstanding and critical support of the organic industry throughout her career. Sen. Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, plays a pivotal role in crafting federal agricultural policy and shepherding its passage. Her leadership has led to a historic new focus on organic priorities in the 2014 Farm Bill that was passed earlier this year.
Presenting the award to Stabenow at OTA’s Annual Policy Conference, Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb praised Sen. Stabenow for her tireless work for agriculture and for organic agriculture in particular. Robb said her drive and commitment was critical to the successful passage of the farm bill.
Stabenow noted the significant advance of organic agriculture and the increasing popularity of organic products with consumers. She said the success of the organic industry was important for the economy. “We want you to be successful and we want you to grow the economy as well as grow your products and make your product,” Stabenow told the attendees of the policy conference, who represented the entire swath of the diverse organic industry. “I believe we will have a strong economy with the success of your industry.”
Stabenow was first elected to Congress in 1996 and the Senate in 2000. When the Farm Bill was being drafted in 2012 and again in 2013, Stabenow was a strong advocate for organic, including the technical fixes regarding organic research and promotion orders, funding for a technology upgrade at the National Organic Program and funding for data collection.
Stabenow also played a critical role in ensuring that a new Farm Bill was passed, not just an extension of the previous legislation as happened in 2012 and 2013. Without her strong leadership, American agriculture as a whole could still be drifting from extension to extension.
Established in 2009, OTA’s Public Servant Award recognizes and honors individuals in government who have shown outstanding support for organic agriculture and trade. Past recipients include: Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Rep. Colin Peterson of Minnesota, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Rep. Sam Farr of California.