Corporate law, state statues, antitrust laws, intellectual property, food production, collective management organizations, farm viability, umbrella organizations, value chain actors

Document Type



Quality-based food production, often with a regional dimension, can provide farmers with new, value added markets. It can also provide consumers with access to place based high-quality products, and may benefit local economies through increased commerce. French Organismes de Défense et de Gestion (ODGs) illustrate a mode of quality-based agri-food business organization. ODGs focus on the development of production standards, as well as management of the intellectual property related to those standards. This mode, which is commonly used in Europe, has not often been used in the United States, despite its potential for regional food system development. The ODG mode may provide certain advantages, such as the ability to assemble farmers and value chain actors in a collective food product branding effort, while also remaining in compliance with anti-trust laws an ODG does not actually buy or sell the products it certifies. Here we describe French ODGs, their legal requirements, and their institutional supports and development processes. We compare relevant French corporate law to that of the United States, using Michigan as an example, and describe how the ODG mode can be organized using existing state statutes, provided steps are taken to ensure compliance with anti-trust laws. We discuss how certain French institutional supports can be replicated by adding specific provisions to organizational documents, and how others can be replicated by utilizing private institutional structures, such as a nonprofit umbrella brand. Finally, we discuss the circumstances for which the ODG mode could fit well, and conversely describe specific situations where an ODG may be less ideal. The ODG model has significant potential for branding of value added farm and food products, but as with any mode of organization or business entity, it is not a panacea.