Trade Associations

Agricultural associations exist in every state and for every type of agricultural commodity. In addition to national and local private organizations, there are national councils representing state organizations, such as cooperatives, and regional state- assisted associations that are working to support private farming businesses in their member states. Here are summaries of and links to some of the different types:

The American Farm Bureau

The American Farm Bureau Federation was formed in 1919 as the voice of agriculture. It is still today a private, non-governmental organization led by and for farm and ranch families to address farming problems and to offer educational, economic and social opportunities to farm families across the country. With over five million farming families as members, Farm Bureau is the largest general agriculture organization in the United States. As a grass roots organization, membership is through the local chapters of Farm Bureau, which exist in every state. The national organization’s activities include government advocacy at the federal level; a women’s leadership committee; programs for young farmers and ranchers; and public agriculture education. Members have access to insurance and banking services, legal information, FB News , blogs and educational publications and programs.

The American Society of Agronomy

ASA has been a scientific and educational society since 1907, dedicated to conservation and the wise use of natural resources to produce food and crops, while preserving the environment. Members can network through peer communities and committees, the online directory, and at annual and regional meetings. Professional development can be attained through educational offerings including conferences and training seminars, and a professional certification program. Additional membership benefits include discounted subscriptions to publications, journals, and the Compensation Survey and access to a Career Placement Services center.

The Ecological Farming Association

The Ecological Farming Association nurtures healthy and just farms, food systems, communities and environment by bringing people together for education, alliance building and advocacy. Founded in 1981, the group raises funds through activities and projects, community contributions, business sponsorships, membership donations and grants.

National Farmers Union

A grassroots organization, NFU has been in existence since 1902. Its mission is to protect the quality of life and enhance the economic well-being for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities. Membership is national or through one of its 32 state chapters. In addition to focusing on issues such as fair trade support, the promotion of alternative energy sources, and conservation policies, NFU promotes the family farm producer through economic and marketing policies, assistance with formation of cooperatives, and promotion of food safety programs such as mandatory country of origin labeling. Additional member benefits include access to insurance programs; newsletters; an affiliate credit card program; and discounted travel services.

National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

Since 1929, NCFC has been the national voice of farm cooperatives, and its members include regional and national farmer cooperatives, local cooperatives, and 26 state and regional councils. In advancing the business and policy interest of America’s farmer-owned enterprises, NCFC advocates for farmer ownership and control in the production and distribution chain, for stewardship of natural resources and for vibrant rural communities. To assist with its government, media and public advocacy, NCFC provides online tool kits and issues briefs for its members. NCFC also hosts an Annual Meeting, where issues facing cooperatives are discussed, such as competition in the industry. A Director’s Conference reviews succession planning and leadership transition issues; and a Legal, Tax and Accounting Conference focuses on issues impacting coops in those areas, such as antitrust or new laws and regulations.

Organic Trade Association

OTA is the membership-based business association for the organic industry in North America. The group’s mission is to promote and protect organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public, and the economy. OTA envisions organic products becoming a significant part of everyday life, enhancing people’s lives and the environment. More than 60 percent of OTA trade members are small businesses.

Southern United States Trade Association

In existence since 1973, SUSTA is a non-profit agricultural export trade development association, whose members are the Departments of Agriculture of the 15 southern states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. (A similar consortium exists for western agricultural states.) SUSTA works to assist exporters of food and agricultural products through programs and services such as its Market Access Program, which reimburses small businesses for up to 50 percent of their international marketing expenses; trade promotions at discounted cost to participants; customized training for small businesses new to exporting; and research and data to help companies identify new export markets.

The Western United States Agriculture Trade Association (WUSATA ® )

The Western United States Agricultural Trade Association is a non-profit trade association whose members are the 13 western state departments of agriculture. WUSATA® is administered by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and funded through the Market Access Program (MAP) with a mission to support and assist members and agribusinesses in developing and enhancing international markets for U.S. food and agricultural products.


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