Pioneer of the organics industry, Howard Rubin, has stepped down as the chair of OGA Certified Pty Ltd – a company which he founded in 1989 and has chaired uninterrupted ever since.
OGA is an organic program that operates under the Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA) Group, and offers organic certification to small farming operations selling at markets, direct to retailers and to consumers.
This is not too far from Mr Rubin's original ambitions - he founded OGA to help encourage the Australian organic herb growing industry.
"In the 1980s I was living in England and I created one of the first privately owned, new age health community clinics, where people had access to all things natural and organic," he said.
"As a trained herbalist and homeopath, I was always on the path towards finding ingredients grown without chemicals.
"When I arrived in Australia from England, there were no commercially grown organic herbs here and I wanted to change this, whilst also helping out others who were interested in the organic process."
OGA started as the NSW Northern Rivers Herb Growers Association.
"This was back when our first meeting consisted of 15 people standing around my kitchen," Mr Rubin said.
OGA really launched ahead when it gained AQIS accreditation in 1990, which meant it was then able to operate as a certification body.
"When OGA gained accreditation we were noticing an influx of small operators who weren't just herb growers – our backyard group had now moved into being a national organic certification company," he said.
"It was actually OGA that wrote the first set of Organic Standards – it was a 20-page document and outlined all the basic philosophies of organic practices."
In July 2007, OGA merged with the BFA Group – a move that received close to unanimous support from members.
"I am a big believer of strength in numbers, and through joining BFA, the OGA program has been allowed the opportunity of greater growth and resources."
The BFA’s OGA program, which now has a national client base of close to 400 certified organic operations, is also a fully IOAS 65 accredited program.
"It has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience to have watched the rising growth of OGA over the last 20 years and I am sure that it will only continue to move forward," Mr Rubin said.
BFA chairman Doug Haas has, in addition to his current role, accepted the role of OGA Chair.
"It is humbling to be entrusted with the role of OGA Chair by the very founder and driver of this highly successful and respected company over 20 years," Mr Haas said.
"I am positive and passionate about continuing the OGA program along its very successful path as the first step forward for smaller growers entering into the organic industry and as a widely-known and highly dependable guarantee for consumers at farmers markets and local retailers."
Mr. Rubin’s decision to step down as Chair of OGA is not his final exit from BFA - he will continue in his role as chief financial officer of the BFA Group.
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