The OPMA is governed by a volunteer Advisory Board that is predominantly farmers, Ohio-based associations, regulatory bodies, public representatives, academicians, and others that have an interest in the promotion and protection of smaller farmer and consumers.
Terri Gerhardt – ODA Division of Food Safety
Robert Holthouse – Doug Walcher Farms
Carrie McMaster – McMaster Farms, LLC
Harvey Burkholder – Incred-A-Soil Humified Compost
Scott Witten – Witten Farm
Meet your Advisory Board founding members:
Bob Jones, Chair (Provisional)
Chuck Kirchner (for the Director of Agriculture)
Pheryl D. Zimmerman
Whereas a sufficient number of producers have signed the Agreement and finding the Agreement complies Chapter 924 of the Ohio Revised Code and all other applicable state and federal laws, the voluntary Agreement was approved by the Ohio Department of Agriculture on May 15, 2014.
History of OPMA
It was at the January 2008 OPGMA Congress that the first mention of a marketing agreement for Ohio growers was discussed. This was in reaction to the FDA and USDA efforts to develop Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). More than 50 people with agricultural interests attended a presentation that discussed regulatory efforts to impose a federal GAP and food safety standards.
- January 2009 OPGMA Congress: Discussions further evolved around the need for OPGMA to sponsor an exploratory effort to determine the interest and need for a Marketing Agreement. More than 100 random individuals with agricultural interests attended a presentation that discusses regulatory efforts and food safety standards.
- January 2009: OPGMA board decides to move forward on the concept of an exploratory effort to determine the level of interest for an Ohio based GAP standard.
- April 2009: During the Ohio Food Safety Roundtable discussion in Columbus, Melissa Schmaedick, Sr. Marketing Specialist at USDA informs the group of Western Growers Assoc.’s submission of a National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement proposal.
- October 2009: USDA conducts hearings in Columbus regarding the adoption of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement as a National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. Significant opposition to the idea is expressed at the hearing.
June 2009: OPGMA submits to ODA a request for a grant to investigate the level of interest and outline the proposed food safety standards of a GAP.
- June 2009: FDA and USDA express an interest in the project and send a team to Ohio to be briefed on the concept. FDA and USDA have been in a “wait and see” mode since this time.
- July 2009: ODA approves grant for 2008 and 2009 Ohio Specialty Crop Promotion Program entitled, “Ohio Fresh Produce Marketing Agreement”.
- July 2009: opma.us web site is launched outlining the organization and standards of the Ohio Produce Marketing Agreement. There are more than 800 “hits” in the first week of the launch. No major and few minor objections were noted.
- July 2009: A number of trade papers articles are published and nation-wide interviews are conducted and are still ongoing. No objections or issues are forthcoming.
- August 2009: Early organizational meetings at OPGMA accept a proposal for an Ohio based GAP program in a Marketing Agreement format that mirrors the tenants of a number of federal, state and third party core GAP standards plus a tiered approach to their application. Five listening sessions are decided upon and advertised throughout the state through OSU and the Ohio Farm Bureau. This number grows to more than 15 and over 1000 participants and seven neighboring states demonstrating interest over three months. All major associations having a hand in produce are lending support. Major Amish and Mennonite leaders are lending support.
- November 2009: Listening sessions end with virtually total support for the concept. No major and few minor objections were noted.
- October 2009: ODA Food Safety is briefed on the entire effort and lends support for the concept.
- November 2009: Work begins to research the process for developing and gaining approval for a Marketing Agreement and GAP standards.
- January 2010: OPGMA board and interest other parties (OSU and Ohio Farm Board plus interested observers) briefed on results of listening sessions, approved the Marketing Agreement concept and further development of GAP standards approach. Board made various recommendations and directed efforts to move the concept forward.
- January 2010 OPGMA Congress: Results of listening sessions, the Marketing Agreement concept and core GAP standards are presented to the general membership over four sessions with a total of at least 200 or more participants. There is wide acceptance of the concept. No major and few minor objections were noted.
- June to July 2010: Second grant approved to develop the Marketing Agreement.
- April 2010: Provisional Advisory Board meets and approves work to date, concept and the name, Ohio Produce Marketing Agreement.
- August 2010: ODA lends legal support and a broad outline of events leading up to an approved Marketing Agreement is developed. Work begins on a revised Marketing Agreement.
- February to September 2010: Work continues on the Marketing Agreement, developing the organizational concept, organizing over 100 volunteers into an Advisory Board, technical review boards and internal bylaws and rules. At this point there have been more than 1000 hours of donated time and resources into the effort by volunteers.
- August to October 2010: OSU lends support to OPMA with the development of a comprehensive program and educational series designed around the OPMA core standards. It is presented at the January 2011 OPGMA Congress and receives wide acclaim.
- November 2010: Provisional Advisory Board meets and approves work to date, by laws and rules and to seek ISO 65 accreditation. The process of receiving ODA approval is discussed.
- January 2011: OPMA Advisory Board electronically reviews yet-to-be published draft, resource intense web site outlining organization and standards. Advisory Board members make recommendations to the standards.
- January 2011: The Marketing Agreement and standards are presented over fours hours at the OPGMA Congress. The web site opmaresources.us is launched with major interest and no objections to the concept and standards. The 29th version of the Marketing Agreement is included in the web site. The petition to present the OPMA concept to ODA begins with the first signature coming from the Amish and Mennonite community. Almost 100 signatures on the petition and members are gained during the two and half days of Congress.
- January to March 2011: Three more versions of the Marketing Agreement and one to the petition are crafted by ODA.
- January 2011 to present: Work continues on ISO 65 standard.
- January 2011 to present: Work commences on training program and compliance activities.
- January 2011 to present: Minor TRB (mTRB) changes in leadership continue with work continuing at the mTRB level on standards.
- February 2011: OEFFA convention is attended with formal booth and presentation. Misunderstandings about OPGMA involvement and application to the organic standard are addressed. Application of the water standard to ponds, lakes and rivers are discussed. (These are the first true discussions on the standards. This application of the national agricultural water standard is common throughout all certification bodies and organic standard certifications.)
- February 2011: ODA expresses desire to move the Marketing Agreement along and hopes to have the petitions to them on or about 1 May.
- April 2011: discussions with OFBF for potential increased involvement in the process.
- Summer/Fall 2011: With the support and leadership of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF), an effort is launched to amend Ohio’s code to include voluntary marketing agreements. Senate Bill 309 is introduced and passed the Senate and then the House. Final passage is still pending.
- January 2012: Presentations to OPGMA Congress and the annual Advisory Board meeting is held. Certification activities continue as a 3rd party certification body.
- February 2012: Presentations to OEFFA.
- March 2012: Presentations made to the Ohio Farmers Market Convention.
- June 2012: Participation in the OPGMA Summer Tour with training on farm inspections and what to expect.
- September 30, 2012: Formal grant funding cases.
- October 2012: Senate Bill 309, which provides a legal framework for commodity marketing agreements, passes in the Ohio Legislature and is signed by the Governor.
- December 2013: OPMA submits application to the Ohio Department of Agriculture for recognition as a voluntary marketing agreement under 924.44 of the Ohio Revised Code.
- January 2014: Ohio Department of Agriculture holds a public hearing on the Agreement per 924.44 of the Ohio Revised Code.
- May 2014: Whereas a sufficient number of producers have signed the Agreement and finding the Agreement complies Chapter 924 of the Ohio Revised Code and all other applicable state and federal laws, the voluntary Agreement was approved by the Ohio Department of Agriculture on May 15, 2014.