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AnnouncementSeptember 10, 2014



The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is pleased to announce the new Organic Policy Advisor and share information about the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Meeting.

Organic Policy Advisor and
Organic Working Group Chair

USDA and AMS are pleased to announce that Betsy Rakola will serve as the new Organic Policy Advisor and Chair of the USDA-wide Organic Working Group (OWG), beginning on September 30, 2014. She will assume these roles from Mark Lipson. 

Last May, Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack issued Department-wide guidance requesting that all USDA agencies support organic agriculture. Betsy will be a key part of the effort to integrate organic activities into the Department's day-to-day work.


Betsy brings diverse organic experiences to her new position, having served first as manager for the National Organic Program (NOP) organic cost share certification program and, more recently, as an NOP accreditation manager, overseeing certifying agents.  Betsy previously worked for Oxfam America's Central America and Mexico programs.


Mark Lipson, USDA's first Organic Policy Advisor, was instrumental to USDA's success in organic agriculture during his tenure of over 4 years. The Organic Literacy Initiative has resulted in 30,000 completions of Organic 101 and 23,000 completions of Organic 201 by USDA employees, ensuring that USDA can better serve current and transitioning organic producers.   


We are thankful for Mark's many contributions and we wish him the very best as he returns to his farm.

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Meeting

The 2014 National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Annual Meeting is happening in Burlington, Vermont, and this year's focus is agricultural literacy. NASDA members will discuss important issues in American agriculture, including the legal challenges of industrial hemp, opportunities for dairy exports, EPA's proposed Waters of the U.S., and emerging technologies in agriculture such as big data and unmanned aircraft systems. The agriculture of Vermont will be showcased as well.


USDA and the organic community will be well represented at this meeting. USDA's new Organic Policy Advisor, Betsy Rakola will attend. Also, the opening plenary session, titled "Creating a Culture of Ag Literacy," will feature a panel that includes Dr. Jean Richardson, Chair of the National Organic Standards Board. USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Hardin will also address the group on Friday morning. 


Learn more at NASDA's website


About the Agricultural Marketing Service

USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) facilitates the competitive and efficient marketing of agricultural products. Through its National Organic Program, AMS facilitates trade and ensures the integrity of organic agricultural products by consistently implementing organic standards and enforcing compliance with the regulations throughout the world. Learn more.

About the USDA Organic Insider

The USDA Organic Insider informs the organic community on a wide range of functions, including regulatory updates, requests for public comments, and USDA programs and services.

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