By Jim Gerritson
Back in the beginning when we were inventing OSGATA, we were envisioning an untypical trade association, as the chosen 501(c)(5) structure facilitating aggressive advocacy suggests.
There's one comment from that era that I remember which I believe enshrined our thinking at the time:
We don't want OSGATA to just be a seed version of OTA (Organic Trade Association) or an organic version of ASTA (American Seed Trade Association).
Even in those years OTA was already showing its true colors as a corporate power broker. ASTA, at that time, under increasing control by Monsanto and other Industrial Ag corporations which had ventured into seed, was pushing for a draconian, self-serving revision of the Organic Seed Rule. Had ASTA gotten it's way they would have endangered the organic community's genetic diversity by totally zeroing out exemptions from the Organic Seed Rule. They would have forced Certified Organic farmers to become a captive market supplied by ASTA members. ASTA has had an "Organic Committee," and among those who attended its meetings were Tom Stearns of High Mowing Seed in VT and Tom Johns of Territorial Seed in Oregon.
Code of Ethics. Also at that time we developed a Code of Ethics and incorporated it into our OSGATA Bylaws. I believe the Code of Ethics offers further illumination of our goals and in answer to the times we wanted to become a different kind of trade association.
We spent a lot of time coming up with the name "OSGATA." Symbolically, we wanted clarity that the work of "Growers" must always come before there is any "Trade" (therefore we would never have come up with "OSTAGA").The Bylaws requirement that a majority of the Board must be farmers has followed this same reasoning.