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NOSB ventures to the West

Added April 2, 2010. For the first time in many years the USDA NOP National Organic Standards Board will meet outside of Washington DC. The next meeting of the NOSB will be on April 26-29 at Heidrick Ag History Center, 1962 Hays Lane, Woodland, CA 95776. The opening sessions will run from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday, April 26 and will feature a report by NOP administrator Mile McEvoy. Tuesday April 27 has been dedicated for public comment and is a wonderful opportunity for producers who haven’t been able to make the trip to DC for previous meetings to raise any concerns they have about Origin of Livestock, Animal Welfare and regulation of vaccines that have been part of NOSB recommendations. To reserve a slot to present comment (recommended as there is usually little opportunity to sign up on the day itself) you must contact Valerie Frances either by email at valerie.frances@ams.usda.gov, by fax to (202) 205-7808, or by phone to (202) 720-3252 by close of business April 12.

On Wednesday April 28 the livestock committee, under the chairmanship of New York organic dairy producer Kevin Englebert, will present a discussion document on housing and stocking rates as part of the ongoing deliberations about Animal Welfare.  For dairy producers, who are now under strict criteria for grazing and access to the outdoors, it is important to leave enough flexibility for different environments and weather conditions. Trained inspectors should be able to assess whether there is ‘adequate space for animals to exhibit their natural behavior during the non-grazing season or during times of temporary confinement.’ The livestock committee will also make recommendations on clarifying the existing rules on Animal Health Care Products to ensure that producers can use products that enhance the welfare of animals, even in the absence of illness, while still restricting the use of drugs.

The NOSB work is essential to the future integrity of the organic label and these meetings are a great opportunity to present ideas and recommendations to the committee. Moving the meetings out of DC presents an opportunity for many producers and interested observers to see how new regulations are made or old ones adopted, and the many details and implications that have to be considered in making recommendations to the NOP to ensure that future rules are fair, practical and enforceable.  Ensure that you are part of the solution and take some time to attend some of the meeting to learn how the ‘Organic sausage’ is made. For more details go to:

www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/NOSB