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Fall National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Meeting Highlights

By Lisa McCrory, NODPA News and Web Editor

Added November 15, 2010. It was my pleasure to attend the NOSB meeting on behalf of NODPA in Madison, WI from October 25 – 28, 2010 and be part of industry conversations, certifier technical arguments and a layman frustration with the ‘sausage making’ of organic regulations. This was the last meeting for New York dairy farmer and organic pioneer, Kevin Englebert, who has provided such an insightful and consistent producer voice in maintaining the strength and veracity of the USDA organic seal. Kevin could only have done this with the support of his family and we thank them all for their dedication to the future of organic agriculture. Organic sales are now in the $25 billion range and the workload of being a representative on the NOSB is equal to having another job. While OFPA and FACA rules may dictate that these representatives of our industry cannot be paid, we need to address the issue of how to maintain a diverse and representative Board, including working farmers, who have no private income or stable salary. If we don’t, the candidates for the Board will self select to be salaried industry personnel and we will lose the experience and insights of the practitioners of our noble science.

Fortunately, under this new administration the National Organic Program (NOP) publishes a great deal of information about NOSB meetings. Please go to www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/NOSB for all the details of the meeting. Issues that got a lot of attention in both the comment periods and during meeting sessions were Corn Steep Liquor and Hops. A number of livestock health products will return to the Sunset list (205.603) for another 5 years and they are: Aspirin, Chlorine materials (calcium hypochlorite, chlorine dioxide, sodium hypochlorite), Copper sulfate (as topical treatment, external parasiticide), Alcohols (ethanol, isopropanol) Furosemide, Glucose, Glycerine (as livestock teat dip), Magnesium sulfate, and EPA List 4-inerts of Minimal Concern.

Comments on the NOSB Livestock Committee Discussion Document on Animal Welfare, which suggested measurable stocking densities for various types of confined livestock showed that there was general support for strong animal welfare standards within organic farming systems. NODPA, and many others, felt that any regulations must steer away from prescriptive elements, and create reasonable standards determined more by the realities of farming, good husbandry, grazing, natural animal behavior, and natural healing. See NODPA and NOC comments >

Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator for the NOP gave a report on the NOP highlighting the accomplishments over the past year as well as their goals for 2011. They are preparing for the next OIG audit, which will evaluate organic milk, determining whether milk marketed as organic meets NOP requirements, and assessing if there is adequate oversight of certifying agents by AMS.
The NOP has a list of rulemaking that it will be working on for 2011, of which Origin of Livestock is number two (pesticide residue testing is number one). They intend to present a proposed rule on Origin of Livestock by 2011. NODPA continues to push for a Proposed Rule early in 2011 so that the confusion over organic status of livestock can be settled in a timely way.