Former NOSB Chairman Joins Organic Watchdog’s Leadership

 Barry Flamm
Barry Flamm

Cornucopia, WI – The Cornucopia Institute is pleased to announce the unanimous election, by its Board of Directors, of Barry Flamm, PhD, to the organization’s distinguished Policy Advisory Panel. Dr. Flamm was the first certified organic sweet cherry grower in Montana. He served on the Governor’s Council to develop the Montana Department of Agriculture Organic Certification Program, was a founder and vice chair of the Montana Organic Association and was presented the Montana Organic Association’s Life Time of Service Award.

The Cornucopia Institute is a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group which acts as an organic industry watchdog.

In January Barry Flamm concluded a five-year term on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), for which he served as Chair in 2012.  Dr. Flamm was appointed to the NOSB by the Secretary of Agriculture to serve on the seat, designated by Congress, for an environmentalist (“with expertise in areas of environmental protection and resource conservation”).

Dr. Flamm taught environmental policy at the University of Montana along with lecturing on and authoring conservation topics. He is a natural resources and environmental consultant specializing in biodiversity conservation on the global scene for such organizations as the Asian Development Bank.  Flamm led the development of the Mongolian Biodiversity Action Plan, was a team member on the World’s Bank assistance to China to develop its Biodiversity Action Plan, was Chief of Party for the Nepal Forest Policy Project funded by USAID, and has accomplished other conservation work in Asia, South and Central America and Africa. He also was Chief Forester at the Wilderness Society.

Dr. Flamm served 27 years with the Federal Government as: Director of the Office of Environmental Quality, USDA during President Carter’s administration, and was Senior Staff Member for natural resources and agriculture at the President’s Council on Environmental Quality from Richard Nixon’s to President Carter’s administrations. After the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was passed, he became the U.S. Forest Service’s first Environmental Coordinator developing NEPA’s procedures and monitoring the agency’s actions which affected the environment. From 1967 to 1969, Dr. Flamm was part of a USDA assistance program in Vietnam as forest management specialist and Chief of the USAID forestry program. Prior to this assignment, he was Forest Supervisor for the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming and other Forest Service positions throughout the West.

Barry Flamm received his BS in Forest Management from Colorado State University, MPA in Public Administration/Public Policy from American University, ABD work in ecology at the University of Maryland, and a PhD from George Mason University.

In recognizing Dr. Flamm’s service on the NOSB, Cornucopia co-founder Mark Kastel said, “Barry consistently represented the interests of all stakeholders in the organic community in protecting the integrity of the organic label and did so, especially as NOSB chairman, in an exceedingly diplomatic manner.”

Dr. Flamm joins two other highly respected former NOSB members in Cornucopia’s current leadership, Goldie Caughlan and Kevin Engelbert, who both serve on the organization’s Board of Directors.

Two other veteran organic farmers and former NOSB members also helped guide The Cornucopia Institute, through its startup and nine years of growth,as Board members: Bill Welsch of Iowa, prior to his passing in 2010, and Merrill Clark of Michigan, prior to her retirement in 2012.

“We are especially grateful to Barry, and all of the former NOSB members, for lending their knowledge and expertise to Cornucopia’s mission,” Kastel added.  “All being long-time active participants in the organic farming community, in addition to their five years of experience on the National Organic Standards Board, uniquely equips them to understand the implications of the problems and opportunities inherent in regulatory oversight at the federal and state levels.”

“I am honored to accept the invitation to serve on The Cornucopia Institute’s Policy Advisory Panel,” said Dr. Flamm, “and I look forward to assisting in Cornucopia’s important mission.”

Cornucopia Policy Advisor Francis Thicke Appointed to NOSB

The Thicke dairy farm

The Cornucopia Institute applauds USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack’s appointment in January of farmer and environmentalist Francis Thicke, PhD, to the National Organic Standards Board, adding valuable perspective to this 15-member citizen panel that advises the USDA’s National Organic Program.

An organic farmer for over 30 years, Dr. Thicke currently operates an 80-cow, certified organic dairy in Fairfield, Iowa, producing and direct marketing milk, cream, yogurt, and cheese. He has served as a member of Cornucopia’s Policy Advisory Panel since 2010.

The Cornucopia Institute, representing more organic farmer-members than any other public interest group, acts as an organic industry watchdog to assure that the interest of consumers, and ethical industry participants, are not compromised.

Dr. Thicke has been active in many environmental organizations including the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission, the Leopold Group Sierra Club in Southeast Iowa, and the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission.

“We want to thank Secretary Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Dr. Kathleen Merrigan for their choice of a candidate to sit in the seat reserved by Congress for an environmentalist, who is truly of exemplary qualification,” said Cornucopia’s Mark Kastel.

Added Kastel, “Cornucopia has been critical over the years of some of the USDA’s legally questionable appointments to the governing Board that oversees organics, which was set up by Congress. But here’s an appointment of an individual of impeccable credentials.  In addition to Francis Thicke’s experience as a grass-based dairy producer, and years of involvement in the environmental movement, he holds a PhD in soil science.”

Dr. Thicke’s five-year term began January 24, taking the seat of Barry Flamm, PhD, featured above, as one of the three environmentalists serving on the NOSB.

 Cornucopia Announces Staff Additions/Changes

Cornucopia also welcomes two new staff members this season. Melody Morrell, Cornucopia’s Associate Membership Coordinator, has been with the organization since mid-2012.  She has over a decade of experience in nonprofit administration and programs, working on issues ranging from gender equity and developmental disability to sustainable living. Melody earned a BA in Anthropology from the University of Minnesota–Duluth in 2003.

Harboring a deep love of the land and living things, Melody and her family formerly lived on a diversified sustainable farm in Wisconsin. Recently the family moved to a farm in Milaca, Minnesota, where she and her carpenter husband are in the process of building a tiny house for themselves and their two daughters. Caring for the land, practicing community-sustained farming, and studying traditional healing have led Melody to the understanding that peace is possible.

Cornucopia Research Associate Jason Cole formerly served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador, where he helped small-scale farmers use sustainable agricultural practices in order to minimize their impact on highly valuable cloud forest habitat.  In partnership with a local NGO, Jason developed agro-forestry projects that improved pasture productivity and reduced the need to clear virgin forest for new pasture.

Prior to his Peace Corps service he worked for the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management in the fields of forestry, botany, and hydrology.  Jason holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Arizona, and a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.  He lives in western Wisconsin with his wife and three children.

Melody and Jason will share some of the responsibilities managed by longtime staff member Lynn Buske, who left to take a position with the state of Wisconsin’s Cooperative Extension service.  Lynn wore many hats during her five-year tenure with Cornucopia, including intrepid Administrator and Research Associate. She also launched and managed Cornucopia’s successful internship program.  “We want to thank Lynn, who is still a loyal and active member of The Cornucopia Institute, for her years of service,” said Cornucopia Codirector Will Fantle.  “She was universally liked and respected by the rest of our staff and board of directors.  I can’t think of a more dedicated member of our organization.”

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