Melissa Hughes of Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative was tapped as the new president of the Organic Trade Association's Board of Directors by fellow Board members. Elected as an OTA director in 2013, Hughes is general counsel and director of government affairs for Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative.
"Today more than ever, advocating for organic is critical for our families, farms and food. Organic isn't just a consumer lifestyle, it's the future of farming. We've made much progress in recent years, and yet, there's more work to be done educating and demystifying organic," said Hughes upon starting her new role on the OTA Board.
Hughes has been with Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative in her current position since 2003, managing all of the co-ops legal affairs and overseeing relationships with various governmental groups, including legislators, agencies and other regulatory entities. She notes that her passion for organic food and people is her compass in her work and personal life. Organic Valley is America's largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation's leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it currently represents 1,844 farmers in 36 states. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a variety of organic foods.
Other officers announced at OTA's Annual Meeting include Sarah Bird of Annie's Inc. as vice president—USA, Dag Falck of Nature's Path Food as vice president—Canada, Melody Meyer of UNFI as secretary, and Tony Bedard of Frontier Co-op as treasurer.
In the recent election, Meyer, who served as OTA president for 2013 to 2014, was reelected to the Board for a third three-year term, along with Bird and Bedard who also were reelected. Filling two appointed three-year positions are Kim Dietz of Smucker Natural Foods and Jesse LaFlamme of Pete and Gerry's.
Completing the Board are Samantha Cabaluna (Earthbound Farm), Perry Clutts (Pleasantview Farm), Nicole Dawes (Late July Organic Snacks), Chris Ely of Applegate Farms, Kelly Shea (WhiteWave Foods), Marci Zaroff (Under the Canopy/Portico Brands and MetaWear), and Leslie Zuck of Pennsylvania Certified Organic. In addition, Ryan Benn of Alive Publishing Group Inc. has been appointed for another year by COTA to represent Canadian interests on the OTA Board for a one-year term.
Retiring from the Board are Matt McLean of Uncle Matt's Organic Inc., who had completed the maximum nine years on the Board, and Scott Nash of MOM's Organic Market who completed a three-year term.
OTA's Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. In the recent election held this summer, a record 34.8 percent of OTA's trade member companies eligible to vote did so. Also, by a nearly unanimous vote, OTA members voting approved the Board recommendation to change the OTA bylaws to move its current fiscal year to the calendar year. The new Board was seated on Wednesday, Sept. 17.