Farm Bill & Organic Policy in 2019

Session I: 10:00am - 12:00pm

This workshop will provide an update on the 2018-19 Farm Bill, and dig into policies ranging from working lands conservation and crop insurance to research, certification cost share, and enhanced enforcement against fraudulent organic imports. Learn about key strategies and opportunities for grassroots outreach to engage and mobilize around critical organic wins. Panelists will provide a primer on new and returning members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, the Organic Caucus, and other policy needs.

Speakers: Megan Debates, Organic Trade Association (OTA); Steve Etka, National Organic Coalition; Nichelle Harriott, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition; Brise Tencer, Organic Farming Research Foundation  

Link to the slides from the workshop here

Speaker Bios

Megan DeBates is the Director of Legislative Affairs and Coalitions for the Organic Trade Association (OTA), the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. In this capacity, she develops and implements policy strategies in the interest of OTA’s mission and its members, and engages Congress, federal and state agencies and other stakeholder groups to further those policy goals.  Prior to working at OTA, she served as Senior Legislative Assistant to U.S. Congressman Peter A. DeFazio (OR-04) where she advised and developed legislative strategy for DeFazio on agriculture, foreign affairs, international trade, natural resources and other key issues and served as the lead staffer for the House Organic Caucus. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a dual degree in international studies and environmental studies.

Steve Etka, a native of Virginia, is the owner of Etka Consulting, a government relations consulting firm specializing in agriculture and food policy reform. He serves as the Washington D.C. Representative for several policy-related coalitions, including the National Organic Coalition.  Prior to forming his consulting business, Steve spent 5½ years on the staff of U.S. Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, serving as Deputy Legislative Director, specializing in agriculture, environment, transportation and appropriations matters. Steve graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1987. He lives with his partner Troy in Alexandria, Virginia and is the father of three. 

Nichelle Harriott earned her B.S. in Chemistry and Environmental Science at Morgan State University and her M.S. in Environmental Science and Public Policy at George Mason University. She has spent her career providing decision-makers, stakeholder communities, and the general public with information needed to support sustainable, organic, and agroecological farming systems. Prior to joining NSAC, Nichelle worked for more than 10 years to advance scientific integrity and regulatory policy related to environmental and public health. Nichelle has led large coalitions and served three terms on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee. Nichelle staffs the NSAC Research Extension Education Committee, which focuses on research and organic agriculture issues.