Cornucopia staff members attended the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) pre-meeting webinar today, where the NOSB heard comments from the public. Cornucopia’s notes from this meeting are below.

You can also view our notes from the Thursday webinar.

Thirteen NOSB members present:
(note: environmentalist and handler NOSB positions have not been filled)

The NOSB at the Fall 2017 Meeting

Harriet Behar
Asa Bradman
Scott Rice
Ashley Swaffar
Jesse Buie 
Emily Oakley
Steve Ela
Dan Seitz
A-dae Romero-Briones 
Sue Baird 
Tom Chapman
Lisa de Lima 
Dave Mortensen

Review logistical info:
Asked everyone to reveal their name and affiliations.

[In Cornucopia staff notes on individual comments below, our staff has included the commenter’s name and affiliation]

Charlotte Vallaeys, Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports:

Senior policy analyst w/ Consumer Reports.

Concerned with issue of fraud. Imports, organic eggs w/o outdoor access, milk from cows w/o access to pasture. Concerned about the lack of enforcement.

Fructooligosaccharides should be removed from NL. It’s not a necessary additive.

Do not oppose re-listing any of the gums as they are alternatives to carrageenan.

Q: How do you deal with change in marketplace when something is removed?

A: Don’t have info about what is removed, but can provide info on what consumers expect.

Robert Landers, Seed of Inundation: [Skipped]

Sam Earnshaw, Hedgerows Unlimited:

Organic farmer for 15 years. Conservation planning on farms. Reputation of organic needs to be upheld. Need to protect sensitive ecosystems from conversion to organic farming. Need fully functioning ecosystems.

Q Emily: Type of activities farmers can do – can they replace native ecosystems?

A: Farm activity does bring back some biodiversity but cannot replace full ecosystem action.

Q Harriet: Resources for when an ecosystem has been damaged to know when it is fully functioning again?

A: There are lots of resources. Look to Wild Farm Alliance. Good info on characteristics and dominant plants. NRCS has good resources.

Julia Barton, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA):

Fraud imports. Grain grower chapter members – this issue effects them; impacted their businesses directly. Domestic oversight should be strong. Enforce pasture rule. Calculating DMI and risk-based protocol developed by OEFFA.

Real impact of oil and gas infrastructure on organic farms – add this to the work agenda. We know it is occurring in agriculture so likely in organic too, esp. CA.

Steve Etka, National Organic Coalition:

Policy director of NOC

NOSB must be able to advance issues of importance to the NOP.

Excluded methods terminology and container issues should be added to work agenda.

Concerned about enforcement of pasture rule in dairy and origin of livestock.

Q: What is the change in NOSB composition that is being written into proposed bill?

A: 3 provisions in draft farm bill; 1. NOSB reviewing materials that have already been reviewed by other agencies (EPA/FDA) then NOSB would have to develop a task force to review with the other agencies – has to get input from EPA and FDA essentially (concern is it would be cumbersome). 2. Expedited petition and review process for materials dealing with crop and food safety issues. NOC concerned this would be a loophole. 3. Clarify farmer and retailer seat – can be employees of those companies and not owners themselves.

Harold Austin, Past NOSB member:

Part of tree fruit industry in PNW.

Crops: support listings of elemental sulfur (insect and disease control) and essential nutrients. Support sulfurous acid via sulfur burners.

Support several other materials. Each material is listed for a specific use and should not lump materials into one category. Doesn’t support review of chlorine materials.

Doesn’t see need for sulfur dust anymore, uses wet-able sulfur to it doesn’t spread.

Peter Nell, CCOF:

CCOF speaking on inspector qualifications and what CCOF does. Overly prescriptive inspector requirements make organic producers lose easy access to inspectors.

Q: Operations have gotten more complex. How do we deal with inspectors having the right level of training?

Casey Schoenberger, Dramm Corporation:

Produces liquid fish fertilizer. Requires acids to be added to fertilizer, but can use less acid if the pH is allowed to drop below a certain level initially. Supports annotation prohibiting harvest of fish for non-food purposes.

Q: Food safety issues?

A: We double check safety. PH level of 3.5 all harmful bacteria eliminated if time is proper. Lower PH levels are safer.

Kestrel Burcham, The Cornucopia Institute:

Supports the proposal for rulemaking for conversion of native ecosystems.

NOSB should add the issue of labeling hydroponic produce to the agenda.

Would like to see issues of oil and gas infrastructure and wastewater added to the agenda.

Domenico Tassone: [Skipped]

Shelly Connor, Wild Farm Alliance:

Supports the motion for a 2-part proposal to prevent the conversion of native ecosystems. Want organic agriculture to grow, but not at the cost of its integrity or the loss of important lands and habitat. These habitats are needed for the future and the organic label should not be complicit.

Q: Climate change? Do you have info about consumer expectations?

A: Many species facing extinction due to climate change. Consumers believe that organic label is the gold standard, but in order to keep the public trust, it needs to be transparent that this label is more than just pesticide free but it’s protecting native lands and species.

Amber Pool, CCOF:

2020 reviews – elemental sulfur. Support.

Q: Constituents feel there is no alternative to dusting sulfur or there is no research into wet-able vs. dusting? Does dust offer an advantage?

A: Different answers from producers. Some say if dusting is removed they will not longer be organic. Mixed responses.

Rhodes Yepsen, BPI:

ED of EPI. Reaffirming members desire to support soil biodegradable mulch film.

Sam Raser, Grain Millers Inc:

Ideas for supporting grain imports w/o fraud. Certifiers need training and authority to go through mass balances. Increased testing for imports. Support of OTA recommendations for grain import fraud.

Stephen Walker, MOSA Certified Organic:

Operations manager. Certify operations in Midwest. Protect genetic integrity on organic land.

The burden should not be on the organic community to keep genetic cleanliness. And chemical trespass from non-organic shouldn’t be pushed on organic growers.

Nathan Brown, Organic Farmer, Amaltheia Organic Dairy:

Small vegetable grower.

Paper pot planting system – allows to transplant many transplant many in a short amount of time. Saves huge amount of time. Saves propane b/c of time saving. The NOSB should approve the paper pot use.

Q: Glue or ink – what was the problem with paper?

A: Explained the glue might be the issue. But it’s the same glue that is in cardboard.

Q: Paul Lewis from NOP might be able to answer what is making these pots ineligible for use.

Dave Chapman, Real Organic Project:

Farmer in Vermont. ROP is working to make an add-on label. Farmers and advocates that are making a label that is transparent and will reject hydroponic and CAFOs; commitment to saving the damaged NOP label (though USDA label will always be the base). Urge NOSB to continue to fight against hydroponics in organics, and for strong animal welfare standards despite rejection of OLPP.

Alan Schreiber, Washington Berry Commission:

Berry disease management based on his research. Organic blueberry growers do not have good disease tools. Specifically, fungicides. They are in desperate need for better tools, WA berry industry is mostly conventional b/c of this. Polyoxin-D would help, improve grower yield and help more transition to organic.

Q: 50% of berries are lost?

A: In Western WA, where most growers are, they routinely lose 50% or more to mummy berry. In Eastern WA they don’t have mummy berry. Can get info on this.

Jessie Bovay, Mercaris:

Director of business development. Online trading mechanism. Avoiding usage of an HDS code impacts imports. There should be an increased number of codes for organics for imports. Our online platform is not currently certified by USDA.

Different than other brokers in that they never take ownership – they are an online marketplace.

Jeff Dean, Timberlane Farms:

Producer of organic corn, clover, etc.

Concerned about the impact of fraudulent imports. Lack of integrity destroys the marketplace. Co-mingling and mixing products, they need to be certified. Should be required to have a paper trail throughout. Transactions should be traceable.

Q: Uncertified brokers?

A: If brokers are co-mingling they need to be certified. If they are just handling they don’t need to be certified.

Q: Economic impact on your farm?

A: Yes with corn, losing about $3 a bushel due to imported corn.

Sydney Rosario, Miller Poultry: [Skipped]

Elijah Dean, Timberlane Farms:

Third generation farmer, corn, wheat, beans, clover, etc. Imports – the effect it is having on the integrity of organic and negatively impacting the integrity of organic. Mentions Washington Post article. But what is being done against fraudulent imports? Should strengthen paper trail for imports. Should be same standard as what domestic production is. Should be traceable to the field.

Dean McIlvaine, Twin Parks Farm:

Organic farm affiliated with OEFFA. Prices falling in line with when “organic” imports exploded. Broaden and strengthen enforcement of existing rules – better tracking, system for testing all shipments, and verify yield potentials through certification process of shipper.

In favor of animal welfare and livestock access – animals enjoy the outdoors even in worst weather. Organic success is our demise because people cheat at all levels. Need to assist transitioning farmers, assist them in transitioning current chemical farms and not taking out native lands. Up-stream violations in supply chain should not be a burden on farmers to verify. Farmers should not be suffering the cost. Same with farmers experiencing drift. The burden and expense should be on the person who committed the crime.

Jim Gerritsen, Wood Prairie Family Farm:

Organic seed farm and president of OSGATA. Also member of REAL organic standards board. Farm accidentally sprayed by the State of Maine and they bore the burden. Organic farmers should not be held responsible for chemical trespass and transgenic fraud for seeds. Native habitat issue – need to be smart about what is defined as native ecosystem. Family farmers should be able to convert land that is not high value.

Q: When did the land get converted:

Q (Ashley): Has same concerns – what would you like to see in proposal to cure concerns? Do we need this proposal at all?

A: Should differentiate in definition between high value and low or medium value. Generally good proposal and does reflect values.

Comment (Emily): Does not think Jim’s land would qualify at all. Should place trust in family farmers who do a good job.

Kim Dietz, The JM Smucker Company:

Senior manager for organic policy. President of OTA. Importance of establishing imports oversight. Gums – support relisting. Support NOSB recommendation to change annotation for flavors to incentivize use of organic flavors.

Kenneth Parker, Fla Strawberry Growers Assn.:

ED of FSGA. Comment on polyoxin-D zinc salts. FL is not the best for strawberries, but the fruit that is produced is remarkable. Fungus does hurt crops in FL.

Q: Does this substance work?

A: Research data from the season, do have. Will give to Michelle. Have virtually nothing in organics, so anything that has some benefit would be good for organic producers.

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